An early supporter was Maxwell Davis, who hired him to take over his own parts so that he could concentrate on producing sessions for the Modern record label. Recruited by Capitol Records in the mid-1950s, Johnson also played on innumerable records by Peggy Lee, Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra and others. He remained a leading session player for almost twenty years, averaging two sessions a day and playing everything from movie soundtracks to rock and roll singles, such as Ricky Nelson. He played on many of the Beach Boys’ records, and was an integral part of a number of instrumental groups that existed in name only, such as B. Bumble and the Stingers.
In 1963, he recorded the Pink Panther theme, but played on only the first few of the cartoon series. Another solo for a well-known television series was on The Odd Couple's theme music. Johnson was also used by Motown, and played on hits by Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and others. In 1970, he joined the studio band for "The Merv Griffin Show" and also played with a number of jazz and swing bands of the period. He continues to record and perform, particularly at jazz festivals.
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