Produced in Hawaii in 1975, Jack Johnson started playing guitar as a teen. Soon after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Johnson recorded several songs to get a low budget surfer film that became a cult hit. The soundtrack’s success finally resulted in a record contract as well as the 2001 launch of Johnson’s debut album, Brushfire Fairytales. Several records and numerous record sales have since followed.
The youngest of three sons, Jack Johnson was born on May 18, 1975, in Oahu, Hawaii. The son of renowned surfer Jeff Johnson, youthful Jack took to the water like his dad along with elderly brothers, and was a regular on the surfboard by the age of 5.
The Johnsons lived a life built around being outside. Summers became controlled by canoe trips and family camping experiences. When he was not traveling with his parents and brothers, Jack was frequently at the ocean, surfing as much as he could, something that continues now.
“Growing up I ‘d try and surf three, four hours a day,” Johnson said in a 2008 interview. “I have become dependent on it. It is tough when you begin an addiction at age five.”
His brother Trent had a group, and Jack liked to slip into his room to experiment with all the reverb on the guitar amp. His musical preferences changed, from Black Sabbath to the Doors to the Violent Femmes.
In 1992, Johnson made history when the 17-year old became the youngest surfer to make it to the finals of the Pipeline Masters inOahu. It basically functioned as the pinnacle of his competitivesurfing profession. Soon after falling short of winning the contest, Johnson suffered a grisly surfing injury when he careened right into a coral reef and badly cut up his face.
“It was a persona changer,” says Johnson, who stop competitive surfing not long after. “It humbled me, plus it slowed me down. I love to joke that I hit my head so hard that that is the reason why I am so mellow, but I do believe it did mellow me out—absolutely.”
The couple wed in 2000 and has two boys together.
Not long after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Johnson wrote several tunes to get a low budget surfer film called Thicker Than Water. The movie became a cult hit, and Johnson’s music, steeped in his now-adored serene, mellow design, helped drive interest inside.
It was not long before Johnson was inundated with offers from leading music labels. He finally signed with Universal, as well as in 2001 Johnson released his first album, Brushfire Fairytales, which went platinum.
Along with his music, Johnson is a dedicated supporter of environmental causes. For many years he along with his wife Kim coordinated the Kokua Festival, a fundraising Earth Day concert that featured numerous headline performers, from Willie Nelson to Eddie Vedder.
Johnson resides together with his family in Oahu.