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Tampa music fan pursues rock 'n' roll dreams through artwork

Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 28, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa native John Johnson always dreamed of being a part of rock 'n' roll history. However, when he realized his singing and guitar playing weren't good enough, he had to find another way.

"Singing was something I really wanted to do, I wanted to be David Lee Roth and Robin Zander, but that didn't work out," said Johnson.

Johnson wasn't about to give up; if he couldn't make it in the music industry as a performer, he'd make it as an artist.

"It's kind of my way of creating music through vision," said Johnson.

The first album cover he ever made was for a couple of high school friends in a little band called Walk the Chalk.

"He only gave me two hours to do it, so I whipped it up and took it to the printer," said Johnson.

Over the next four decades, Johnson went on to design hundreds of album covers, posters and T-shirts for bands and musicians across the country, including Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick.

"They've been called the American Beetles, and I agree with that," said Johnson.

He's most proud of the band's 2006 album cover, Rockford.

"I did kind of a sketch of their characters using primary colors and primary shapes: circle, triangle, rectangle, square," said Johnson.

In recent years, Johnson has expanded into the local community, volunteering his time to design advertisements for various charity events.

"It's been a blessing to be able to give back something that I kind of find easy to do that some people can't, its pretty cool to be able to apply my talents to something that feels good," said Johnson.

Johnson even found time to pick up a Super Bowl ring along the way as a member of the Buccaneers web team back in 2002.

"I feel pretty lucky to have met the people I've met and been on this journey; it's pretty cool," said Johnson.