Singer-songwriter and filmmaker Jack Johnson took an unexpected turn on his road to celebrity. The son of surfer Jeff Johnson, the younger Johnson (not to be confused with the groundbreaking African-American boxer from the first half of the 20th century) grew up in the famed North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. He picked up his father's sport as a child and was competing professionally by his teen years. A serious accident and simulataneous interests in film and music led Johnson to pursue his latter interests.
His music talents first came to public attention through the burgeoning folk-rock scene of the late '90s, when singer-songwriter G. Love featured him on his 1999 album, Philadelphonic. Soon after, Johnson broke through with his work on the 2000 surf documentary, Thicker Than Water. The film was widely praised, but several songs he contributed to the soundtrack also attracted attention. In 2001 he worked with Ben Harper producer J.P. Plunier and released Brushfire Fairytales. Unlike Harper or G. Love, Jackson eschewed strong rhythms or heavy guitars and instead took a more breezy approach by emphasizing acoustic instruments, loose rhythms and an earnest, cheery disposition. His music was embraced by a nation of puka-beads, and his "debut" went platinum.
If Dave Matthews Band ruled dorm-rooms in the late '90s, then Jack Johnson carried the torch in the early '00s. In 2002 he released another surf documentary, The September Sessions, and wrote accompanying music again. He followed with 2003's On And On and 2005's In Between Dreams, both of which went platinum. By the time of his 2006 soundtrack album, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George, topped Billboard charts, Johnson was a mainstream pop star. He released his fourth album, Sleep Through The Static, in 2008 and scheduled a fifth, To The Sea, in 2010. ~Dan Nishimoto
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