Mike grew up in Montgomery, AL where he started playing Steel Guitar in his Dad’s band at age 15. At age 19, he moved to Nashville, TN to work with Mel Street. When Mel died, Mike went to work with Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely. He then took a job with Bill Anderson and was affiliated with Bill’s organization for over 15 years.
Shortly after The Nashville Network came to cable TV, Mike became The Music Director and The Steel Guitar Player for the show “You Can Be A Star”. During his 13 years with TNN, he served in the same capacity for 3 other shows; “Play It Again Nashville”, “Be A Star”, and “The Charlie Daniels Talent Roundup”. He also wrote and produced “theme songs” for several TNN shows including, “Fandango”, “Top Card”, “American Magazine” and “The Mesquite Rodeo”. During the years of touring with Bill Anderson and working with TNN, Mike produced and played on 6 albums for Bill. He had played on a number of recording sessions and in September of 1996, he made the decision to take on session work “full time”. This decision proved to be a good move.
The first year he recorded with Faith Hill and Brad Paisley. He has since played on records with artists such as Carrie Underwood, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Hank Jr, Trace Adkins, Big and Rich, Jewel, Joe Nichols, Dierks Bentley, Shania Twain, Josh Turner, Dustin Lynch, Thomas Rhett, Justin Moore, Rhonda Vincent, Blake Shelton, Deep Purple, America, Aerosmith and many others. Visit Mike's All Music profile for a full discography.
He played on the Daryle Singletary album “That’s Why I Sing This Way”, which included guests like George Jones, Dwight Yoakum, and the very last recording of Johnny Paycheck. Brad Paisley’s “Part Two” album included a guest appearance by Buck Owens. Mike played steel on the Grammy Award winning Louvin Brothers Tribute Album entitled “Livin’ Lovin’ Losin” for Universal South Records. It included such artists as Vince Gill, Glen Campbell, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, and Ronnie Dunn.
Mike is currently and has been the Music Director & Steel Guitarist for the RFD-TV show, “Country’s Family Reunion” since 1997. He has also played on recordings for the ABC TV series, “Nashville”.
Mike was voted the Academy of Country Music, “STEEL GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR” for 2006 and for 2012. He was nominated for this ACM Award in 2004, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 2015.
“Music Row Magazine” honors the Studio Musicians who have played on the Top Records each year and Mike has consistently been on that list since 1998. Mike is a member of The Alabama Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and The Nebraska Country Music Hall of Fame.
In addition to Mike’s current session work, he is also touring with Reba McEntire.
Mike Johnson: Copedent
The chord–pedal–arrangement (copedant) for Mike Johnson's E9 | C6 Steel Guitar setup. Downloadable as a PDF.