Don Johnson 1949-2008
We humbly acknowledge the many hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, faxes and letters received during the past days regarding the untimely passing of Don Johnson. As a tribute to his memory the following are a sampling of comments received. Space and a publication deadline does not permit a complete list, however additional reflections from his industry friends will appear in the July issue.
Don Johnson, our esteemed editor of MMR magazine for over twenty five years, died on May 2, 2008 after a long battle with cancer. Don was my friend, colleague and mentor. He was always patient and provided me with guidance about writing, the music business, and about how to work with people. We shared a room for over twenty years at both the winter and summer NAMM shows and I have many fond memories of working and enjoying life with him. He was a very dedicated father and husband who would talk proudly about the special and significant accomplishments of his children Hillary and Rosie and of course his wife, Charlene. As Don valiantly fought cancer, he never let his illness affect him and maintained a positive outlook and work ethic. We traveled together very recently to the Musik Messe show, which took tremendous strength on his part, but I know that he didn’t want to miss it. MMR was so important to him that he was e-mailing copy right until the day that he passed away.
Don was an integral part of the growth of MMR magazine and its Web site, and led the development of the weekly “Update” which has become the industry’s most widely read industry newsletter. He was always an eager traveler and relished trips to far flung corners of the world including Shanghai, The Czech Republic, Frankfurt, Spain, Italy, and throughout the United States. I always admired his depth of knowledge of world geography, as he always seemed to know exactly where to go, and what happened in those places. His writing style matched his personality which was never pretentious, and always curious, friendly, and non-judgmental. He was known by the industry around the world and most folks were always happy to see Don and would spend time chatting with him about their latest accomplishments or the challenges facing the industry. He enjoyed every minute…
One of my fond memories was after the Musik Messe show in Frankfurt was over; we were both beat and tired. We managed to get ourselves over to the old section of Frankfurt for a “Dunkel” beer. We never could figure out why that one beer had such a powerful effect on us, as when we stood up we both looked at each other and sat down again, insisting that it must have been fatigue. I will miss Don very much…
We have lost a great friend.
Don earned our friendship and respect. I feel a huge void in the industry.
Director of Trade Shows
Thank you Don Johnson for so many good times and great memories. Those of us who knew you will miss you more than we can realize today. It was our good fortune to have crossed your path in life, and we will always be gratefull for all you gave of yourself in the 25 years we’ve known one another and worked together. Rest in peace, good friend.
Joe and Suzy Fucini
I always knew I was at a NAMM show when I was greeted by Don. I know he is no longer in pain and truly enjoying his discussions with the authors of the many great books that he loved.
Chief Operating Officer
It is with a deep sense of loss that we acknowledge your e-mail about Don. He never lacked the time to stop and chat or listen and advise. He was a wonderful man; the industry has lost a very good friend. Please add our condolences to family and friends.
Ivan I. Kahn
Encore Pianos International
Dietmann-Bernhard Steiner Pianos
He was a great guy and a tremendous asset to our industry.
Yamaha Corporation of America
While I did not know Don personally, I have relied heavily on MMR as my primary source of info on the industry.
I am sorry for the loss of your colleague, Don Johnson. While I did not know him at all, I enjoyed his editorials and insight about our industry.
Our condolences to the family and colleagues at MMR. We appreciate your magazine and the talents of men like Don.
I have known Don for most of his 25 years at MMR and I can only say that he was always the gentleman, friend, and consummate business associate. Don will always be remembered and missed by all who knew him.
|I am devastated by this news. Just eight weeks ago we were having dinner at Zum Storch (Music Messe). What extraordinary dedication he has exhibited this past couple of years.
I am very sorry to hear this. I appreciate this well-written tribute—makes me feel like we should all know so much about each other. Our condolences. This is clearly a huge loss for our industry as a whole.
Paige C. Segler
Music Magazine Publishers Association
Such a tragedy. Don was quite a gentleman and always helpful to those who called upon him.
Our prayers are with his family in this time of loss.
I am shocked by the news. I just spoke with him via e-mail within the last two months and he let on nothing about his condition. Don really made it easy to get story ideas published. He was so excited to hear about our latest promotion and how it turned out and “did I have any photos.” He published many features on our store. I am forever indebted to Don for all he did for Firehouse Music. Condolences to Don’s family. He was a truly special guy and I’ll miss him.
I have received and used MMR for years and am sorry of the passing of Don Johnson.
Adam F. Pivovar
We are all so sorry to hear about Don’s passing. He was a wonderful man and surely a wonderful friend for many years.
D’Addario & Co.
|The Retail Print Music Dealers Association offers its heartfelt and deepest sympathies to the colleagues, family, and friends of Don Johnson. When RPMDA first began to reach out to the music industry at large, Don was there. His thoughtful and intelligent reporting from our annual conventions put us on the map and helped us grow as an organization. We owe no small part of our current success to Don.Our admiration for Don’s courage and determination is unbounded. The fact that he kept working, meeting deadlines, and digging for stories, while simultaneously undergoing treatment for cancer was nothing short of heroic. At our 2007 convention in Milwaukee, we honored Don (and I think truly surprised him!) with an RPMDA baseball jacket and cap in recognition of covering fifty straight NAMM shows and 30 straight Frankfurt Music Fairs. No matter what the movie box office receipts say, we all know who the real Iron Man is.
Besides his important body of work as an industry journalist, his family – wife Charlene and daughters Hilary and Rosie – are his real legacy. I’m sure Don would say that was reason enough to be put on this earth, even if we all feel that he wasn’t here nearly long enough.
Don was a great man.
Our sympathy goes out to his family.
Wayne Wesley Johnson & Freda Ruiz
Don always handled himself with a great sense of gentility, and struck me as very accessible and friendly human being.
Lynn P. Martin
President American Music & Sound
While we only spoke once, he gave me a feeling of being real and honest, which are qualities that are difficult to find these days.
Don was one of those special people who understood the value of the news, but also the greater value of integrity and relationships. I valued knowing him and shall forever remember him as a wonderful human being who also happened to be a very fine and highly respected journalist. He will certainly be missed.
Such sad news…
Don was a faithful advocate for the music products industry, a man of gentle wisdom and keen insight… and, of course, a good friend. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He will be greatly missed by the people of Kawai and certainly by all of us who represent the piano industry. Don’s life was a “life well lived.” And we, as an industry, are the grateful beneficiaries of his dedication to our business and our future.
Sr. Vice President
Kawai America Corporation
Piano Manufacturers Association Int’l
I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of Don! He interviewed me way back in the ’80s—when I was the cover story— Delian Music— one of the very few women to own a music store. I had written a few “letters to the editors” over the years and Don always published them. I found him easy to work with, interested in what I had to say and he had a dry wit! It was always like talking to an old friend. I will sure miss him. God bless him.
Please express our condolences to Mr. Johnson’s family and the entire MMR team of his passing. He will be missed.
Please express our deepest condolences to the family and everyone at MMR. This is a great loss for the music industry.
US Band & Orchestra Supplies, Inc.
What sad, sad news. Don was absolutely ace, and a great example of the kind of people in this industry who encouraged others. His MMR years helped keep all of us informed and I enjoyed reading his perspectives.
R. Scott Johnson
JT Musical, Inc.
Though I’m not in the music business these days, semi-retired in Conn., I’ve stayed in touch with the industry by reading Don’s weekly update every Friday, and I’ve saved them all to my hard drive. He will be missed by an entire industry around the world.
Ex-Zildjian, Rico/Boosy & Hawkes
I am very sorry to hear about Don. He was a class guy.
Though I did not know Don personally I always read his editorials and felt a kinship with him, as his “take” was always so on the money.
You could tell Don was a unique man… Special.
Contemporary Music Center
I have known him for over 20 years and saw him at NAMM, MIAC, and MusikMesse, and he was always a true gentleman and a solid industry supporter. I always looked forward to getting his newsletter every Friday.
The industry will not be the same without him. It will be very different not seeing him at Summer NAMM and all the industry shows after that.
It will be very difficult to find someone to fill his shoes at MMR.
Norris-Whitney Communications Inc.
Please pass our condolences to Charlene, Hilary and Rosie. Don will be sorely missed. It was always a joy to meet Don at the trade shows because he was always smiling, happy, and eager to share his insights. I will always remember Don Johnson, the forever humble and kind gentleman with one or two cameras around this neck.
Henry K.S. Lee
CFO and Vice Chair
Tom Lee Group Companies
|September 11. 2001.
Don and I were waiting at a Long Island Marriott until late morning to visit the Sam Ash headquarters when the planes hit. We decided to go ahead with the interview. When we entered the building the gravity of the situation started to unfold and we witnessed the Ash family’s quick reaction. Paul, Jerry, Bernice, Sam and Richard Ash manned the phones, calling their stores in the tri-state area to assure themselves all employees were safe and with instructions to go home. Jerry offered his New York apartment to any employees who needed a safe harbor. We postponed the interview and started a five hour journey off the Island. Don told me he was never prouder of being part of the music industry than seeing the reaction of the Ash family. He later returned to their headquarters and the finished piece appeared in the January 2002 issue.
Here is my favorite recollection of Don: Back in the fall of 2000, Don accompanied members of Korg USA on a trip to London and the Marshall factory in Milton Keynes for the unveiling of the Marshall AVT series of amps. During the trip, we scheduled in some sightseeing time in London, and we all rode together to the Marshall factory in a deluxe bus, enjoying the views of the English country side.
That trip must have made a nice impression on Don, because for years (and I do mean YEARS) later, every time I emailed or called Don with an idea or an editorial inquiry, before I was able to finish giving the details he would say something to the effect of, “So, I think we should go back to London again, don’t you?”
Don was a class act—very polite, friendly, and professional. He will be greatly missed by everyone in our industry.
Please accept our sincere condolences.
Mark Wood Music Productions / Wood Violins
I was deeply saddened by the news of Don’s passing. May we all learn from his courage and his always friendly demeanor towards others. He was a great guy.
Vater Percussion Inc.
Don will be in our prayers. I appreciated his down to earth style. I found his insights interesting, insightful and meaningful. I looked forward to reading his column. May God bless him.
Richmond Music Center
I am so sorry to hear about Don. Please extend our condolences to his family.
I remember Don with great fondness during the past years at NAMM. What a wonderful man.
Jeanne M. O’Keefe
The Lippin Group/L.A.
I am deeply sorry to hear this news. Please give my condolences to his family and we will pray for his soul.
He was a great person and he loved my father and family business.
The Rodriguez Family
Manuel Senior, Manuel Junior
Our deepest sympathies to his family and MMR.
We will miss Don’s friendly smile at the trade shows. He was the consummate professional and always had the most interesting insights about our industry. He was a joy and had a wonderful sense of humor. We always looked forward to his excellent and timely editorials — he had his hands on the pulse of the MI industry. He was unique and will be remembered.
Janet and Mike Kropp
It is hard to believe that another one of our music industry colleagues is no longer with us.
There are people I consider “fixtures” in the music industry and Don falls into that category.
MMR will miss Don’s keen insight as will all of us. Godspeed Don.
National Sales Manager
I loved Don from the first time we met over 20 years ago.
I will miss our sarcastic banters through e-mails.
Condolences to all our MMR friends and associates and especially to Don’s family.
|I began working at Larkin Publications in January 1982 as a graphic designer on Music Video Retailer with a young editor named Don Johnson. He had long, brown hair and a thick moustache. We worked with an ad trafficker, Charlene Johnson, whose office was down the hall. They were married two years later, and Don and I both started working on Musical Merchandise Review. Together, over the decades, we have seen many changes in the music industry and magazine publishing. We used to sign off on blue line proofs with a grease pencil and squint at negatives for film ads. Don transitioned from the electric typewriter, to a word processor, then to his trusty laptop. Now I proof pdf pages online and wonder how we ever got an issue out on deadline before computers and the internet. Don’s hairline receded, I got divorced, but month after month, year after year, together we managed to send twelve issues of MMR to the printer. Don was a true veteran of the music industry, attending 53 NAMM shows and writing more than 300 editorials. His office chair is empty now.
Stacks of papers cover his desk, unanswered e-mails are in his in-box. I will miss my co-worker and friend.
I saw the announcement this morning and was shocked. Garth and I commented on how much better Don looked when we saw him in Frankfurt. I wanted to believe he was getting better, but I knew that seldom happens.
I will always remember and cherish the night at the first or second economic summit. Neither of us had anything planned on one particular evening, so we went down to Newport Beach to have dinner at one of the restaurants. It was a wonderful evening and we talked on a wide ranging number of topics. While I knew Don for years, this was the only time we spent an appreciable amount of time together, and we talked about everything but the music business. It was a wonderful evening.
I was very saddened to hear of Don’s passing. I saw him briefly in Frankfurt, and we knew that he didn’t have much time left with us. Still, I was amazed that he made it to the show which showed tremendous courage and strength. I always knew him to be a stand-up guy, always with integrity, and always eager to help. He will be missed.
Ross Garnick and the entire Korg family
We are very sad to see Don go. Our condolences to Don’s family and friends.
American Music and Sound
Don, thank you, we love you and you will be missed dearly. Your encouragement and support have been an immense foundation of not only my successes, but also that of my employers over the years. Our best of wishes to your family—and, Go Tribe!
Kahler International, Inc.
Our condolences to MMR, family, and friends.
Team Stage Ninja
Don was a great man who always took a moment to give advice to me, which was always timely and extremely helpful.
All of us at GCI Technologies pass on our condolences to Don’s family, friends and to the entire MMR staff.
This is a very sad day in the musical industry.
Don truly loved the music industry and it showed at all times.
I will miss his smiling face on Friday’s Updates. Condolences to his family.
My condolences. I’m very sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Johnson.
Juan (JC) Faxas
DJ & Lighting Buyer
Guitar Center, Inc.
I both respected and admired Don. His contributition to the industry was great. I will miss him.
Don will be missed. He was the ultimate professional.
Don will be GREATLY missed.
Diamond Amplification, Inc.
Please give our sympathies to the Johnson family. And what a wonderful recollection written on his life and family.
He will certainly be missed by all of us here at Publishers Press.
|Don was a very nice guy – always a “class act.”I looked forward to reading his Editor’s comments in each month’s MMR.
He will definitely be missed.
I always looked forward to his stimulating articles and knowledgeable insight into our industry.
He will be missed by myself and all those who admired his work. My prayers go to his family.
Odyssey Innovative Designs / Show Solutions
Please offer our deepest condolences to the entire Johnson Family and to all of you at MMR, as well.
The mrp Custom Drum Company
Like most of us in the industry and those here at PianoDisc who knew Don, I am deeply saddened by his passing, particularly at such a relatively young age. My heart goes out to his dear wife and precious daughters. May God grant His grace, mercy, and peace in this time of mourning and loss.
I am so shocked. Don was such a fine human being. All of our sympathies go out Don’s family.
We had our employee Quarterly Meeting this afternoon at 2:15 and Chris Martin paid tribute to Don in his talk to the employees.
All 600 of us.
I am extremely saddened by this news. I feel privileged to have had a chance to know him. He was a gentleman.
Please pass my regrets to his family on behalf of Buffet Crampon USA.
Director of Sales & Marketing
Buffet Crampon USA, Inc.
I always looked forward to seeing Don at the trade shows and receiving a sincere greeting and handshake from him.
Don’s contributions to the retail music industry will be missed.
Pete & Genett Gamber
Alta Loma Music
|Don was always kind and supportive to me in the most gracious way. Shortly after I started working for MMR he had trouble speaking because of the cancer. I never even knew until someone else in the office told me. He just answered my voicemail messages by e-mail without ever mentioning that he could not speak above a whisper. But that is just a sign of how he put himself out for people without ever asking for even the smallest consideration in return.
I shall miss his friendship, his calm professional expertise, and his special brand of kindness.
I read the sad news of Don Johnson’s untimely passing. I know that despite knowing the end was coming, your team must be devastated. As a long time reader of your magazine, I just want you to know that my thoughts are with all of you during this difficult time. Don leaves some very big shoes to fill and will be sorely missed by thousands in our community.
Acoustic Instrument Buyer
Guitar Center, Inc.
I’ve been in the music business for over 30 years, and although I have never had the pleasure of meeting Don, the presence of his face and words for so many of those years in your magazine made him seem like an old friend to me. I will miss him.
Rozwick-Giles’ Alaska Music ONE
My thoughts are with his family and the MMR team. Don was a great guy and always really helpful.
The Music Link
How sad. I wasn’t a friend of Don’s; not even really a nodding acquaintance. We met a couple of times at NAMM shows. He was always cordial. A couple of years ago, he printed a rant I wrote after having read an article in MMR. We exchanged e-mails a few times after that, and I was always impressed how he remembered who I was, and where my store was.
This was a gentleman, and my condolences to all his friends and family.
John R. Giovannoni
The Music Room, Ltd.
Don was a consummate professional and true journalist, and I trusted every word he wrote. Our industry is diminished with his passing.
Executive Vice President, Merchandising
Musician’s Friend, Inc.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for many years through my previous company, Fine Fretted Friends. He will be missed indeed.
As we are still so new to the U.S. as a vendor, and hadn’t had a chance to get to know Don as well as I’m sure a lot of folks did, I was very taken by his humility and genuine interest in our small story. Having read the brief retrospective in MMR, this would appear to have been a long term approach to journalism and life for him.
Would that there were more people in the world like this, let alone in our little industry!
Dennis J. Drumm
John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd.
On behalf of the MIAC Board of Directors and membership, we would like to offer our sincere condolences on the passing of Don Johnson.
Don was a fine gentleman and a passionate industry communicator who always presented his opinions and assessments in a fair and balanced manner. Each month we looked forward to his editorial columns in MMR and his unique perspective.
We were particularly pleased by the way Don covered our Canadian trade shows, both MIAC and PAL, in an unbiased fashion over the years and was a strong supporter of our Canadian event.
Having had the pleasure of many conversations with Don over the past 25 years, I can say without a doubt, the music products industry has lost a wonderful editor, great industry spokesperson, and just a super guy.
We hope Don’s family and friends will take comfort in the fact that he made a major contribution to the industry and will be long remembered by his colleagues in Canada.
Thanks Don for all the great memories … you were one of a kind!
Al Kowalenko, Executive Director
Music Industries Association of Canada (MIAC)
I am very sorry to hear about Don. I really have no words …
With great respect, please accept our condolences to all at MMR and Don’s family.
Jodi Ann Parker
All of us at Acoustic Guitar and String Letter Publishing are sorry to hear about Don’s passing. Our thoughts go out to his family, and to all of you who worked with him at MMR. He’ll be missed.
Group Publisher & Editorial Director
It is a sad day in the industry.
Frank Luppino III
My deepest sympathies to you and all of your colleagues. The last time I saw Don was at the Mondomusica Show in Cremona in October; he was jet-lagged and didn’t seem to speak a word of Italian, but he was glad to be there, figuring it all out, and smiling. I had no idea he was ill at that time. He’ll certainly be missed by many people.
David A. Lusterman
String Letter Publishing
In the 20 years I knew Don Johnson, I saw a man who consistently rose above the crowd, and who possessed enviable personal qualities: quiet, dignified professionalism, a friendly, positive demeanor, and a willingness to help others in very meaningful ways. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Well, Don had an impact on many lives in our industry, and I, for one, am a better person having known him.
He was such a wonderful person and I always enjoyed talking to him at the conventions. It was a shame he couldn’t come to the RPMDA convention last month, being so close to home.
Please pass on our sincere condolences to his family and the MMR staff.
Bonnie & Clyde Fitch
Bonnie’s Music Shoppe
M.I. lost one of its true nice guys—a fellow who always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye and a moment to stop and say hello.
I was deeply saddened by the news of Don’s passing. He was a fixture at every trade show I can remember in my 23 years working in the Industry, even this year’s Musikmesse. Don always had a smile on his face and so obviously loved his work. He will be missed. My deepest condolences to his family and to all of you at MMR; his other family.
Vice President, Artist Relations & Event Marketing Worldwide
Avedis Zildjian Company
From everyone at Core One Creative, we send our deepest sympathies and heartfelt thoughts to Don’s family and the MMR Family. Don was a very nice man always and will be truly missed.
Core One Creative
I loved his wit and his sense of humor.
He was never self-congratulatory, and always made you think. What I liked most about Don is that I always felt quite comfortable talking with him, and came away feeling better for the time spent with him.
I’m very sorry to hear about Don’s passing. I had no idea he was ill. He was a good person to work with, and I appreciated his help over the years.
Our condolences to the Johnson family. Our thoughts are with all at Symphony Publishing.
Mountain Rythym, Inc./ Dream Cymbals and Gongs, Inc.
I just wanted to pass to you my sincerest condolences and best wishes. I didn’t know Don well, but I have known him for a long time and he was a wonderful guy who was always a pleasure to work with. This is tragic news and everyone at MMR must be deeply saddened.
Corporate Communications, Asia Pacific
Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd.
Our sympathy with MMR and Don’s family and friends.
Twin Town Guitars
I’m so sorry to hear about Don. My thoughts and condolences are with all of you and with Don’s family. I was very fond of him.
Director of Marketing
Don was a friend of Celestion, so I’d like to extend the deepest sympathies from everyone here to Don’s family, and to all his colleagues at MMR.
My condolences to you all at MMR.
He will be greatly missed.
I am very sorry to hear of Don’s passing.
The Music People
Sorry to hear this news.
Very sad. He will be missed.
I will miss him surely.
After seeing him only a few weeks ago it seems like yesterday.
We are very sad to hear of Don’s passing. We always enjoyed working with Don and have a great amount of respect for him. Please know that everyone at Fishman is thinking of him during this difficult time.
What a trooper! True to form, Don worked the 2008 Musik Messe like always, visiting all old friends, customers, new accounts and covering the ever growing Light and Sound Frankfurt yearly event.
It has always been good to see Don anywhere we have met on the road and his smile and friendly disposition always made me feel like a trusted comrade. Don was special and also had a great insight into this MI industry, the people that are lifers in it, as well as those with a new and novel idea. He not only covered the shows in total, his opening comments in “Editorial” usually struck a nerve with industry vets. He not only wrote about the industry, he lived it!
Don will be missed, a great and warm human being, we were lucky to have him in our lives.
Our deepest regrets at the loss of your friend and colleague… Don will not only be a loss to MMR, but a loss to the industry as well.
Don was very kind to us and very professional, and was very good at his job.
Sonia and Tom Vallis
LPD Music International
I want to pass on my condolences over the loss of our long time friend, Don Johnson. He will be missed by all of us in the industry.