L.A Johnson, longtime producer and director of rocker Neil Young’s film and video projects, died Thursday in Redwood City, CA. He was 62. Cause of death was not immediately known.
Born Larry Alderman Johnson on June 11, 1947, in Ft. Benning, GA, the filmmaker met Young at the Woodstock festival in New York in 1969, where he recorded music for Michael Wadleigh’s documentary feature. Johnson received an Oscar nomination for best sound for his work on the film.
He filmed a 1970 Fillmore East performance by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and produced Young’s impressionistic 1974 feature “Journey Through the Past.”
As head of Young’s Shakey Pictures, Johnson acted as producer on Young’s film and video releases “Rust Never Sleeps” (1979), “Human Highway” (1982), “Solo Trans” (1984), “Weld” (1990), “Year of the Horse” (1997), and “Greendale” (2003). He produced and directed “Neil Young: Silver and Gold” (2000), produced “CSNY/Déjà vu” (2008) and was executive producer of Jonathan Demme’s Young documentary “Neil Young Trunk Show” (2009). He acted as music producer for Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” (1995), which featured a soundtrack by Young.
He worked closely with Young on the music side: He co-produced the singer-songwriter-guitarist’s “Greendale” (2003) and “Living With War” (2006) and was deeply involved for two decades in the production of Young’s mammoth audio-visual “Archives” project, the first volume of which finally saw release last year. Johnson was also a key production executive on Young’s annual Bridge School benefit concerts.
Johnson participated in a number of other music-related features. He recorded sound for Bob Dylan’s gargantuan “Renaldo and Clara” (1978) and “Cat Stevens: Majikat” (2004), served as line producer for Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the Band “The Last Waltz” (1978) and directed video and TV shows on Belinda Carlisle, Bobby Brown and New Edition.
He produced and directed a 1993 TV documentary on film composer Maurice Jarre and a 2002 TV feature about the Bonnaroo Music Festival, and produced the 1980 Joni Mitchell doc “Shadows and Light.”
Johnson is survived by his son Ben and daughter Hannah and their mother, Leslie Morris.