Composer and guitarist Scott Johnson passes away at 70
Music fans were recently saddened to learn that composer and guitarist Scott Johnson had passed away at the age of 70.
According to The New York Times, Johnson died in Manhattan last Friday. The paper quoted his sister, Susan Lee Johnson, as saying that his death was due to aspiration pneumonia.
Johnson's wife died alongside her husband
The Times noted that Johnson's wife, 70-year-old classical-music publicist Marlisa Monroe appears to have died on the same day as her husband, with police finding her "unconscious and unresponsive" in their home. Monroe's cause of death has yet to be determined.
Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, the Times explained that Johnson "played clarinet before switching to electric guitar in high school."
He then went on to fuse classical music with more modern styles by "bringing elements of rock into the concert-music world."
Fellow musician Peter Gordon recalled how Johnson initially supported himself by demolishing and renovating lofts.
An award-winning career
The hard physical labor took a toll on Johnson's hands, with Gordon telling the Times, "It sometimes took Scott days to be able to use his fingers for guitar, after sanding floors all day."
Tributes to Johnson quickly appeared on social media, including from journalist Steve Smith, who tweeted, "Writing obituaries is a challenge and an honor, and this one meant a lot to me."
Writing obituaries is a challenge and an honor, and this one meant a lot to me. But I have to warn you: there is a genuinely tragic detail near the end of this one that readers likely will (and should) find upsetting. Please don't read this unprepared. https://t.co/dkKVxbNIWB
— Steve Smith (@nightafternight) March 26, 2023
Artist remembered for being "an inventive composer"
Joshua Kosman is a classical music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and he spoke of being "heartbroken" by Johnson's death.
Heartbroken to learn of the death of composer Scott Johnson, whose work sparkled with wit and ingenuity. The first time I heard “John Somebody” was a revelation about how beautiful and *fun* music could be. https://t.co/2ZvJUXXV8N
— Joshua Kosman (@JoshuaKosman) March 26, 2023
Meanwhile, former New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn hailed Johnson for being "an inventive composer who brilliantly pushed against the classical/rock divide."
RIP Scott Johnson, an inventive composer who brilliantly pushed against the classical/rock divide. https://t.co/LhRdZoQxz7
— Allan Kozinn (@kozinn) March 27, 2023