A Guide to the Bob Johnston Collection, [ca. 1950s-1980s]
Born Don W. Johnston in Hillsboro, Texas, in 1932, Robert “Bob” Johnston entered the music business in the 1950s as a songwriter and musician on demonstration records. As a staff producer for CBS Records in New York City, head of CBS in Nashville, and later as an independent producer, Johnston produced a string of gold and platinum albums, beginning in the mid-1960s. His major hits include Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Nashville Skyline, Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin, and Leonard Cohen’s Songs from a Room and Songs of Love and Hate. Furthermore, he has worked with Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Lindisfarne, and Jimmy Cliff, to name a few. Johnston has also penned a number of songs and film scores over the years, including music for Kris Kristofferson’s first film Cisco Pike, Robert Redford’s Little Fauss and Big Halsy, and I Walk the Line, starring Gregory Peck. In addition to his musical work, Johnston co-produced and narrated the documentary The Other Side of Nashville, a portrait of the Music City from an insider’s point of view. A founder of the World Children’s Corporation in 1975, Johnston has engaged in charitable work devoted to the welfare of homeless and underprivileged children.
Composed of classified files, audio and video recordings, publications, and artifacts, the Bob Johnston Collection, [ca. 1950s-1980s], documents the music industry career of Johnston while a CBS staff producer in New York and Nashville as well as an independent producer. Organized alphabetically, the classified files for Johnston’s projects and work with specific artists and musicians consist of newspaper clippings, biographies, correspondence, travel schedules, proposed recording expenses, financial records, scrapbooks, and photographs. Example topics include a recording project in China, the World Children’s Corporation, and musicians, such as Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, and the Bama Band. Comprised of 45-rpm singles, LPs, 10- and 7-inch reels, audiocassettes, test discs, and 16mm films, the over 2300 audio and film recordings contain test pressings, studio master tapes, and commercial recordings produced by Johnston for classical, jazz, country, and pop musicians, such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, Tracy Nelson, Joe Ely, and Aretha Franklin. The publications contain sheet music and songbooks as well as books on music, literature, art, and general social science topics. Artifacts include framed gold and platinum records, music industry awards and plaques, and a signed Waterboys drumhead.
This collection is open for research use.
Bob Johnston retains copyright to the collection.
Use of audio material by appointment only; please contact sound archivist for more information.
Use of video material by appointment only; please contact repository for more information.
Use of artifacts by appointment only; please contact repository for more information.
Bob Johnston Collection, [ca. 1950s-1980s], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
This collection contains unprocessed materials.
Detailed Description of the Papers