Who is Greg Johns

Greg was born and grew up in Oklahoma, the home of legendary folk music icon Woody Guthrie.  His birthplace is well known for its rich musical heritage and the storied contributions to the Country and Americana music scenes by Oklahoman super-stars such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton.   But the more traditional music styles didn’t quite fit Greg’s personality and artistic vision.  His storytelling and trademark warm, whiskey-infused vocals, beckon influences far beyond his birthplace.   As you listen to his music you are reminded of Memphis blues, the rich southern rock vibe of Macon, the outlaw-country music of Austin or the Muscle Shoals sound.   Truly, his music defies categorization.  Greg is a blend of everything, or nothing, all at the same time.   

Like so many of his generation, Greg first put his hands on a guitar at an early age.  His dad brought home guitars from his second-hand store in Duncan, OK, and showed his son a few chords.  The fire was lit.  He played in rock-n-roll cover bands in high school and then served a stint in the US Navy in Pearl Harbor.  Upon returning to civilian life he moved to New Mexico, determined to take his music to the next level.  In his twenties he formed and performed in a number of local bands (Harp-Wind and Cactus Kidd), but he thirsted for more.   Then he founded Three Legged Willie.   Named after the fabled Texas newspaperman, soldier and politician, the band became the vehicle for Greg’s ride to that next level.    The band was a huge success in New Mexico, and the southwest/western region of the U.S., performing their original music while still paying homage to the great music of the country-western genre.  In 1986, Three Legged Willie was a finalist in the national country music competition at Opryland in Nashville, sponsored by Wrangler and Dodge.  The band signed a recording contract and produced its first, full-length, LP named Heartbeat, featuring mostly original music.

Greg and TLW pursued the dream for the better part of 20 plus years but, as he told Mel Minter in an interview for the April 2023 edition of ALBUQUERQUE, THE MAGAZINE, he retired Three Legged Willie after the tragic death of one of his bandmates.  He explained to Minter “It just took the wind out of my sails”.  For a time, Greg continued performing as a solo act, or occasionally sitting in with other local artists, but then it seemed he disappeared from the New Mexico music scene altogether.  What did not disappear was the spark that was ignited when he first held that second-hand guitar all those years ago.

Starting in 2006, Greg became a regular at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, the world-famous folk music festival that happens every September.  There he joined a community of singer-songwriters, superb pickers and lovers of Americana music.  One acquaintance was Bill Graham, a singer-songwriter and guitarist with whom he and Greg’s wife, Linda, wrote Winfield Songs and Dreams, the recipient of the Best New Original Song at the festival in 2021.  In December of 2021, Greg walked into Wall of Sound recording studios in Albuquerque to record an album of old and new songs.  The result was the 2022 release titled Now…and Then, which was nominated for Best Country Album at the 2023 New Mexico Music Awards.  Winfield Songs and Dreams received a nomination for Best Original Song and Greg’s “signature” song, Rodeo Hippie, received the 2023 NMMA Award for Best Western Song. 

Greg has found his way back into the music business, playing with the Semi-Large Band and, on occasion, on his own, singing the songs he learned so long ago. Greg’s dedicated and loyal fanbase, which remains intact over the four+ decades of Greg’s musical journey, regularly turns out to hear Greg perform with his Semi-Large Band in venues around New Mexico.