"I feel as if I have come a full circle in my life, back to who I really am, a songwriter. I went missing somewhere along the way."
So said Jon Johanson, ahead of the release of his first album, Country Tales and Hobo Trails, and following the success of The Rodeo EP, and the lead single from the album, Telegraph Road.
By 'missing' Johanson means he concentrated on the business side of the entertainment industry for over twenty years.
Born in Cardiff his first 'public' performance was in front of three thousand people at the age of eight. Encouraged by his mother, a singer with the Welsh National Opera, and his drama teacher at school, Jon started acting as well as playing in various bands.
Jon won his first award for writing whilst still at school, and at fourteen starting recording at the BBC studios in Cardiff where he was given carte blanche for the next few years.
Moving to Santa Barbara he continued to perform but became disillusioned and moved to LA, where he had launched a management and production company, working with, and writing for, both new and established artists. He appeared on radio and television, including the Jerry Lewis telethon along with many others, including one Francis Albert Sinatra.
He worked with two American Idol judges, a genuine music legend and also two pop idols of the seventies.
His last band consisted of a Doobie Brother and members of the group Chicago and Bonnie Raitt's band, recording at Danny 'Three Dog Night' Hutton's studio in Malibu.
Jon returned to the UK to concentrate on his own writing, not only songs, but scripts, plays and short stories. His first play, "Weekend Break', premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to strong reviews, with Jon playing the male lead. The play has been adapted for the screen, with the new working title "'Til Love Do Us Part".
The first of a series of books, "Winter's Trilogy", featuring three short stories was published in December 2011, followed in March by "Spring; A Trilogy", which featured the stories "To Kill The Dead", "Sleeping with your Eyes Open" and "Counting Mississippi". Both are available on Amazon as are a couple of Jon's older books.
2013 saw the publication of the third in the series, "Summer; A Trilogy", with new stories including "The Murder of Summer".
Audio adaptations of two of Jon's scripts will also be available soon and it is planned to stage a new play in Nashville next year and then filming one of the other plays is scheduled. The scripts are hard-hitting, thought provoking human dramas.
Starting out at a young age as an actor, this Cardiff born songwriter discovered music and songwriting in his early teens. Encouraged at an early age by his parents, (his mother was a singer with the Welsh National Opera), Jon first recorded in a studio aged fourteen, using girls from his school as backing singers. He was then given carte blanche at the BBC studios for the next few years, attracting the attention of several labels, eventually settling on RCA.
A prolific writer Jon won his first award for writing whilst still at school, (he won first place in a national short story competition, having lied about his age). He had his first book of poetry published whilst living in California.
As an actor, his first stage performance was aged seven, in front of two thousand people at Cardiff's Sophia Gardens Pavilion. His high school drama teacher encouraged Jon's acting, the result being various drama courses and training with LAMDA and the Welsh College of Music and Drama.
He continued to act, appearing in many professional productions including the then newly born Chapter Arts, the Sherman and other Cardiff theatres, with Cardiff Laboratory Theatre Company and Orbit. A project that remains special to Jon is the "Magic Bus", a theatre company run by Phil Cope, and based in a red double-decker bus, that travelled around Cardiff and the surrounding areas putting on plays, performances and shows, all on a specially made mobile stage, in parks and other outside venues.
At Cardiff Art College, given a project meant to be a five minute presentation, Jon, who already had a 8mm film camera, had the idea of making a film, and working with a couple of other people, the film went on to win an award for the college, and featured songs by the band Jon was in at the time.
Still in his teens Jon moved six thousand miles away, first to beautiful Santa Barbara, performing with some of music's biggest names - Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Daryl Hall (Hall and Oates), Kenny Loggins, Peter Cetera, Joe Cocker and more, before moving to LA. However, after the successful concerts, releases and TV/radio appearances, Jon became disillusioned with being an artist and suddenly abandoned his own career and turned to representing, writing for and producing a wealth of artists. His LA based entertainment company in the 90's attracted and/or worked with many top professionals, including two teen idols from the 70's; a true musical legend; and two Idol judges, amongst others, becoming a highly respected independent company, creating innovative campaigns and producing some outstanding music for its artists.
Amongst his numerous appearances on television, film and radio, a special moment was appearing on the national Jerry Lewis telethon along with, amongst others, one Francis Albert Sinatra. He has an impressive reputation for discovering new artists and songs, having been the person who has brought many successful artists to the attention of the industry, media and public and he is a respected authority on both music and film.
Whilst living in LA Jon took his song-writing to another level, writing scripts, first developing one of his 'story songs' into a screenplay, followed by a second television screenplay for Fox.
On his return to the UK he set about writing, his first play, the acclaimed WEEKEND BREAK, was first performed at the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Gilded Balloon with Jon starring in the male lead; reviews included "skilful writing"; "excellent acting"; "impressive". Jon also actually directed the play as well. Weekend has been adapted for screen and is now called 'TIL LOVE DO US PART.
A trilogy of plays by Jon, including two new ones, has just been published. The strong influences that the British 'kitchen sink' dramas of the fifties and sixties (A Kind of Loving; Saturday Night, Sunday Morning; A Taste of Honey; The Family Way; Look Back in Anger etc.) and writers and producers such as Tony Richardson, Alan Sillitoe, Stan Barstow and Bill Naughton have had on Jon is evident in his own writing. He also cites John Steinbeck, James Lee Burke, Kevin Costner, Kinky Friedman, William Goldman and Dylan Thomas as other major influences.
The plays are; TRICK, a disturbing, gritty drama which tells the story of a teenage prostitute, who is a single mum fighting to get her son back from care; THE COLOUR OF LOVE, an electrifying contemporary Romeo and Juliet, set in modern day London, exploring the dangerous underlying racism that is threatening countries everywhere; and WEEKEND BREAK.
Jon specialises in 'two-handers' - plays with just two characters and plans to stage his new play, CIRCLES INTO SQUARES, later this year.
All three plays will be filmed over the coming three years as small, independent films through Jon's company and will all accompanied by radio adaptations and soundtrack CDs. Audio/radio adaptations of two of the plays have been recorded and are scheduled for release.
Now equally dividing his time between the UK and Nashville Jon's full debut solo album, COUNTRY TALES AND HOBO TRAILS, was released in 2013, followed by another album, The Loneliness of Night.
"I couldn't have written the songs that I do without experiencing the challenges that life throws at us, and hopefully people will identify with the songs," Johanson says of his new material.
"Writing for me has always been my way of exorcising emotions, of escape." Jon continues. "It has helped to keep me reasonably sane over the years - reasonably."
The last album, Loneliness of Night, featured the single, Fallen, and was an intimate offering.
"I am very open with my feelings, my emotions and I hope this is reflected in Loneliness," Jon said at the time of the album's release.
Jon played all the instruments on his CDs and provides all the vocals, as well as arranging the songs, producing them with Tim Palmer, who engineered the whole thing.
Jon's new album, SONGS FROM A TRAILER PARK, is scheduled for later this year.
The 2012 four track E.P., THE RODEO, which features "Only Hurts Me When I Breathe" and "I Don't Work Without You" is available now too.
Jon's last band in LA consisted of a Doobie Brother and members of Chicago and Bonnie Raitt's band, recording in Danny (Three Dog Night) Hutton's Trancas Canyon studio in Malibu, Danny providing backing vocals alongside Jon.
His earlier new age, instrumental CD, HALF MOON SUITE, has been reissued with a single, WINTER'S DAY.
His company currently also has major projects in development, created for television by Jon. The first is TELEGRAPH ROAD, a drama series highlighting 'small town America', written around a disgraced Washington-based journalist and writer who inherits a small-town family newspaper, returning to the town where he grew up, just outside Nashville, to face personal demons and to build bridges, mainly with his estranged teenage children.
The second project is a television series for the BBC based on a collection of short stories featuring the cases of a Cardiff P.I., based loosely on Jon's uncle who was the real thing in the sixties, a private detective in Cardiff. There is a collection of short stories due. A special Christmas short story, DEAD OF WINTER, was published
A second book of his poetry and song lyrics is now also available on Amazon, as are WINTER'S TRILOGY and SPRING; A Trilogy.
There are several collections of Jon's work - IT'S NOT MY FIRST RODEO, features his short stories; SONGWRITER features poems and lyrics; and SCENES FROM A DREAM includes his plays and screenplays, and the CD THE JOURNEY features a collection of songs.
Jon is now based in Nashville.