INCLUDING ‘ROCK AND ROLL (I GAVE YOU THE BEST YEARS OF LIFE)’
Born, bred and based in Australia, Kevin Johnson is a member of that elite club of singer/songwriters whose works have become ingrained in the fabric of everyday life. ‘Rock & Roll I Gave You the Best Years of my Life’, which is one of the most covered Australian songs by artists the world over, is just one of the wonderful moments from this prolific singer/songwriter. His career has spanned over four decades and he continues to write, perform and record.
For the first time Kevin presents his career defining Ultimate Collection, available physically and digitally. The multi awarded artist has picked a selection of the most successful tracks from his catalogue, a catalogue that has been continuously released internationally for over 40 years.
Kevin was born in Rockhampton. His mother tried to teach him violin but he was not interested in those early days. Later he become infatuated with The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson and started singing in local beer gardens, then later playing in a local band doing The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones material, hoping he “sounded just like Paul”.
In 1967 he moved to Brisbane, married his wife Jill, and started writing songs for artists on the Col Joye/ATA label. After a year in Brisbane they moved to Sydney, where he continued to write then recorded “Woman You Took My Life” which was immediately picked up by Decca Records UK, and then covered by Tom Jones.
The next year Kevin wrote and recorded his first album “In the Quiet Corners of My Mind”, which featured “Younger Days”, among others. It was a concept album, each track being part of a story, and received great critical acclaim.
In 1972 he wrote and recorded “Bonnie Please Don’t Go” which became a national hit, reaching No 2 in Sydney and top 5 around the country and was awarded Top Male Vocal Single of the Year. The song was covered in the USA by Jim Ed Brown who had a top 20 hit in the country charts, calling it “She’s Leavin’ (Bonnie Please Don’t Go”). Brown’s album “She’s Leavin’” also featured another of Kevin’s songs “I Came To Somerset” (USA title “Summerset”)
At around the same time Kevin signed a three year writing/recording deal with Tree International Nashville (Now Sony/ATV), who paid him a weekly retainer to leave work and just write songs. Kevin and family returned to Brisbane for a year, and it was during that time that many of his most introspective, thought provoking songs were written, like “Shaney Boy”, for his eldest son Shane, “Kedron Brook”, “Iridescent Shadows” and “Over The Hills and Far Away”.
After 2 years, Kevin asked to be released, and recorded “Rock & Roll I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life”. This was an immediate hit in Australia, charted in the USA for Kevin on the Mainstream Label, and other countries. Following that, Kevin released his second album titled “Rock & Roll I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life” which was released internationally. The album won him Australian Rock Awards Record Of the year in 1973 and Best Australian Male Vocal Single and Male Vocal Album of the year in 1974. In the US the song was awarded BMI Citation of Achievement for Outstanding broadcast performances in America in 1975 and 1976.
The single “Rock & Roll I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life” was then re-released in 1975 on UK records, charting in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, and many other countries. The song was also a hit for Mac Davis in the USA, Terry Jacks in Canada, The Cats in Holland, Craig Scott in NZ, Joe Dassin in France to name a few.
During that time Kevin had been writing songs for his next album “A Man of the 20th Century”, which included “Scotty” written for his youngest son Scott, “Grab The Money & Run”, “Someday Sam etc. To coincide with the release of that LP, in 1976 Kevin embarked on his first overseas tour, taping his own TV specials, and headlining his own concerts in Europe.
In the following decades, Kevin made regular trips to Europe, doing concerts and TV, usually coinciding with album releases, featuring tracks like “The Next Plane To New Mexico”, “Night Rider” “The Lights of the Distant Harbour”, “A Hard Act To Follow” “Never Know Your Luck In a Big City”.
He has appeared in Europe on TV shows with ABBA’s Frida, James Last, Hot Chocolate, Bonnie Tyler, Billy Ocean, Val Doonican, to name a just a few, and has performed before Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. His songs have been recorded and performed by Tom Jones, Roger Whittaker, Mac Davis, Harry Chapin Terry Jacks, Rod McKuen, Des O’Connor, Gary Glitter, Cliff Richard, Graeme Connors and Joe Dassin
Kevin has written music for three international feature films, and has included in this compilation, two songs that perfectly fit the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli, “Life at the Crossroads” and “Reasons”.
Kevin’s recordings have been continually released in Europe since 1975. He has recently signed a long term world deal with Demon (BBC) UK, and Angel Air Records UK, taking it to well over 40 years continuous international release.
This is a widely varied collection of Kevin’s material. From the rocky “ Ready To Roll” “Daughter of Darkness” and “Wisdom in Hindsight” to the gentle “Love Knows Where To Find You” the thought provoking “Child of Today” to the country “The Sense of it all” the 30’s “Wanting you more every day” and the jazzy “Some Time Big Time”, the influences are many. He has also recorded children’s songs, including one for grand daughters “Lola & Sassy”.
This album is a collection of known tracks, and some that may not have been heard in Australia before, but all part of a collection that has maintained an audience, especially in Europe, for over 40 years.
KEVIN JOHNSON - THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION