Friday, March 5, 2010

George "Bubble Gum in My Hair" Johanson Returns to Loonfoot Falls

George Johanson denies that he's a country music legend: "more like a tall tale," is the way he put it. His name is pronounced "Yohanson" around here. Just about everywhere else, the "J" is pronounced like it is in "judge" or "jury."

More to the point, he's moving back to Loonfoot Falls, where he graduated with the class of 1968.

Most people who break into country music seem to do it in places like Nashville. George Johanson got his break in Fort Worth, Texas. "The place I was working closed their doors, and I still had rent to pay," he explained. "That was January of 1974, so there weren't a whole lot of jobs. My neighbor told me to go sing in a club. I think he wanted me and my guitar out of the building, so he could get to sleep."

His neighbor may not have appreciated his voice, but other people did. George Johanson stopped checking the job postings, and started singing in clubs, working on cruise ships, and living out of an old van.

Then, in 1987, his "Bubble Gum in My Hair" got reviewed in Country Music Magazine. "Besides the headline and the reviewer's name, it was just two words: 'It's okay,' " George told me.

Those two words made a big difference, he told me. For the next ten years he lived and performed in and near Nashville, made three albums, and "spent a little less than I made each week, so I could retire."

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