Tommy Johnson

John Thomas Johnson, a first-chair studio musician in Hollywood for 50 years, Johnson played on thousands of recordings -- jingles, commercials, television shows like The Flintstones and feature films. His tuba can be heard on hundreds of movie soundtracks, including The Godfather and Titanic and, most memorably, the John Williams scores for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones trilogy and Jaws.

In the back pages of the Los Angeles Times, they ran an obituary for a guy named Tommy Johnson, who died in October at 71 of complications from cancer and kidney failure. Accompanying the obit was a picture of a big, beefy lug grinning in a loud sports jacket. If you looked closely, you could see the man had LIPS!

Johnson performed as tuba soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Pasadena Symphony, the San Fernando Valley Symphony, the LA Pops Orchestra, the U.S.C. Wind Ensemble, The LA Tuba Quartet, and with the Henry Mancini Orchestra. Johnson can be heard on the recording of The Manhattan Transfer meets Tubby the Tuba CD.

Conductor John Williams called Johnson “one of the great instrumentalists of his generation. Not only was he the voice of the shark in 'Jaws,' and that of the aliens in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' his performance across the full range of the repertoire inspired not only me, but a whole generation of young tubaists.”

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