After serving as art director in the 1970s at Rolling Stone, where he worked to redesign the magazine’s original logo, which is still used today, Johnson became CBS Records’ art director in the early 1980s. He worked with hundreds of CBS/Sony releases. He first worked for CBS in New York and eventually moved to CBS Nashville, where he became the head of the label’s creative department.
Nashville music critic Robert Oermann detailed just a few of the artists whom Johnson created album artwork for MusicRow.com:
Other notable packages that bore his distinctive touch included Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Willie Nelson (1981), George Jones’ Shine On (1982), Rodney Crowell’s Diamonds & Dirt (1988), Dolly Parton’s Eagle When She Flies (1991), Merle Haggard’s Chill Factor (1987) and the Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces (1998).
Among the dozens of artists whose visual images he affected are Janie Fricke, Larry Gatlin, Waylon Jennings, Joe Diffie, Ricky Skaggs, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Van Shelton, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless and Exile.Singer/songwriter Tony Lopacinski also passed this Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. The father of two moved to Nashville in 2005 after a successful career on the road as Train’s touring guitarist. He worked extensively as Josh Gracin’s bandleader and teamed with the artist and Bobby Pinson to co-write the Gracin hit “We Weren’t Crazy.” Lopacinski also played with Shelly Fairchild, Julie Roberts and others. Recently he had been focused on a new band called Tailgate South.
According to his wife’s Caring Bridge post on the day he passed, his last day was filled with friends visiting including his Tailgate South bandmates singing to him as well as “Sarah Buxton came over and spread her great energy, love and sang a few songs to him.”