He was born in Lancashire, England while his dad was in the Air Force, but the family moved back to the states and he spent most of his childhood in California. Like many of the great singers, he sang gospel music in the church choir as a child before the Johnsons moved to Minnesota when Kent was 15. By 1969, at the age of 16, he was on his own and ended up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he spent the 70's working the mines, playing music and living hard. It was there that a disgruntled neighbor, whose mailbox Kent had shot full of holes one drunken afternoon, declared to the community "we gotta do something about this damn cowboy".
The name stuck, but the alcoholism and addiction he had been struggling with for years did not. Sober now for 24 years, Cowboy sings songs of pain, loss, regret and redemption. His voice betrays the truth that he has actually lived these songs. He has danced with his demons and you can hear them in the soulful honesty of his voice.
Cowboy shares his hard won wisdom as a certified co-leader of the worldwide "New Warrior" training for men. A journeyman carpenter and former member of the steel workers' and painters' unions, he has made his living with his hands for close to four decades.
Through four marriages and divorces, the births of three children, the challenges of recovery and the loss of both of his parents, music has been his foundation. Cowboy Johnson knows thousands of songs and writes his own when the spirit moves him. Mostly he is a singer of great songs and he doesn't care where they come from. He moved to Austin, Texas in 1996 and began to tap into a goldmine of songs by Texas writers, expanding his already extensive repertoire.
He first heard Mickey Newbury's music in 1970 and has been a fan ever since. Cowboy's voice and Mickey's songs are a musical marriage made in heaven. After Mickey's death in 2002, Cowboy became determined to carry on his legacy by recording an entire album of Newbury's songs.
The stars lined up in late 2003 and he recorded the first CD of his career with his old friend from South Dakota, Chris Gage, in the producer's seat. Gage has been a believer in Cowboy's talent since the 70's and the two carefully created "Cowboy Johnson - A Grain of Sand", a CD that beautifully showcases Cowboy's voice and Mickey's songs. Gage's record label (with his musical partner and wife Christine Albert), MoonHouse Records, has licensed the project and is promoting its release.
Cowboy Johnson, currently living in Austin, Texas, recently filmed a "Songwriters in the Round" television show for The Austin Music Network and has been steadily building a loyal following with regular regional performances. He is happily trading the hammer for the guitar.
Check out the artist's website:
1. She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye
2. Mobile Blue
3. Wish I Was
4. How I Love Them Old Songs
5. Country Boy Saturday Night
6. Lead On
7. Why You Been Gone So Long
8. You've Always Got The Blues
9. Makes Me Wonder If I Ever Said Goodbye
10. Frisco Depot
11. If You Ever Get To Houston
12. Sweet Memories