Hearing the Ventures and Elvis Presley when I was eight years old. But my guitar teacher thought I should learn jazz standards first, and the training really paid off. I was taught theory, reading and understanding the instrument.
The first thing that I did was write a song. As far as I can tell, it was called “Bluebird.” I still have the piece of paper, and it’s a little difficult to decipher. It looks like the scribblings of a mad schizophrenic. I remember playing that for hours and trying to impress my family that I already started writing songs.
The Beach Boys had a really cool guitar sound. I also liked the guitarists in the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five. Then Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend hit, and it turned the guitar world on its ear. The more I got into playing guitar, the more I enjoyed music and the broader my listening became. The instrument itself became important to me, and I started messing around with classical guitar and took classical lessons.
What inspired Eric Johnson to start playing the guitar? "It was Nokie Edwards of the Ventures. He was one of the first guys I ever heard play guitar, and I really enjoyed the sound. And when I was a kid it was something new and different to try. Then I got into guys like Clapton and Hendrix, who had these amazing sounds, which further inspired me to play."