Born in rural Indiana, Jay Jesse Johnson started playing guitar at the age of 10 and grew up listening to the sounds of blues, country and rock & roll. By the time he was 12, he was performing at local dances, events and nightclubs around the Midwest.
When he was 18, Johnson left the small town of Liberty, headed to the East coast and started gigging in the New York City / New England bar scene with regional bands, Sass and Cryer. Recognized for his powerful guitar work, he was soon playing on many studio recordings. In 1983 he became the guitarist for ArcAngel (CBS/Portrait Records) where he appeared on MTV with the band’s hit single, “Tragedy”.
Johnson went on to be the guitarist and songwriter for the band Deadringer (Grudge/BMG records), which included Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductees, Neal Smith and Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper as well as Blue Oyster Cult’s Joe Bouchard and vocalist, Charlie Huhn (Gary Moore, Foghat, Victory).
Along with the many recordings that Jay Jesse Johnson has appeared on, his 1st solo album “Strange Imagination”, released in 2004, set the stage for his back to the roots, blues/rock ascent. It was followed by “I’ve Got An Axe To Grind” released in 2007 that featured his old friend Charlie Huhn from Deadringer, along with BJ Zampa (Dokken, House of Lords) and Matt Zeiner (Dickey Betts). In 2009, his third solo album, “Play That Damn Guitar” was released on Grooveyard Records and was featured in Classic Rock Magazine’s CD “Blues Breakers” (The Hottest In New Blues Rock”). When Mike Varney heard Jay Jesse Johnson in 2012, he signed him to Shrapnel Records/Blues Bureau International, where Johnson released his 4th album, “Run With The Wolf.” It was also featured on U.K.’s The Blues Magazine, “Cream Of Contemporary Blues” in 2013.
In Sept. 2015, Johnson was featured with Robert Cray, Canned Heat and Joe Bonamassa in The Blues Magazine’s cover CD, “The Next Generation Of Blues Superstars.” It included his tribute to the great artist’s from the lone star state, “Ghosts In Texas”, from his 5th solo album, “Set The Blues On Fire”. That same year, Johnson was also featured on “Shrapnel Records Presents the Best Of Modern Blues” along with guitar icons Leslie West, Neal Schon (Journey), Paul Gilbert and others.
Jay Jesse Johnson has shared the stage with guitar greats, Johnny Winter, Robin Trower, Walter Trout, Rick Derringer, Pat Travers, as well as super groups, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Fabulous Thunderbirds and Foghat, to name a few. He currently tours with his band, “The Jay Jesse Johnson Band”, A musical powerhouse that features Reed Bogart-Bass, Jeff “Smokey” Donaldson-Drums and Lee Evans on Hammond B3.