Friday, June 17, 2011

Grammy-Winning Country Album Artwork Creator Bill Johnson and Singer/Songwriter Tony Lopacinski Pass On

Tony Lopacinski
Nashville artist Bill Johnson died Wednesday morning (6/15), at his Nashville home after a battle with lung cancer. He was 68. Johnson is known for his creations, which include the logo for Rolling Stone magazine and the arts direction on Rosanne Cash’s King’s Record Shop album, for which he won a Grammy Award. He won again the following year for Tired of the Runnin’ by The O’Kanes.

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
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.”

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