Bob Johnston, Producer of Dylan and Johnny Cash, Dies at 83

Bob Johnston, producer of albums including Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” and Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison,” died Friday in a Nashville hospice. He was 83.

Johnston helped in bringing the folk rock sound to Nashville, and was a guiding force behind artists such as Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel and the Byrds.

On the album “Nashville Skyline,” when Dylan said, “Is it rolling, Bob?” at beginning of one song, the artist was speaking to Johnston, an editor at the Country Music Hall of Fame told the Associated Press.

Johnston grew up in Texas and enlisted in the U.S. Navy before breaking into the music biz. After a short career as musician, he started writing songs for films starring Elvis Presley.

In 1964, one of the first recordings that he produced, Patti Page’s “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte,” became a Top 10 hit while he was working at Columbia Records in New York.

Johnston stood up to  Columbia’s executives, who had threatened him along with Cash when the singer wanted to record live concert albums at maximum security prisons in Folsom and San Quentin. The move was a success and revived Cash’s career. Johnston eventually left the label and continued to produce.

Johnston’s musical career spans 50 years. He continued to produce for artists such as Willie Nelson and Carl Perkins through the 2000s.

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