John Johnson

Host of Johnson's Improbable History of Pop

When asked where he draws his inspiration for Johnson’s Improbable History of Pop, John had this to say, “I write and produce based on my interest in all forms of popular music. I've been listening to this "stuff" since in pre-school.”  That seems to work well for John, who’s produced 625 shows since 1995.  The show evolved out of an idea John had in December ’93.  He did a few specials and the concept eventually gelled into the JIHOP of today.  Outside of the studio, John recently retired from Boeing and enjoys golf, jogging and radio, especially the Saturday night lineup on KPBX.  He and his wife Melinda have two daughters Korissa and Alicia, and 3 grandchildren.

November Programs

Oct 30, 2017

November 4, 2017
Styx at the Starting Gate

Guest Doug Buckley with highlights from Chicago bands early 1970's output on the independent Wooden Nickel label before their national stardom.

November 11, 2017
Neil Young's Homegrown

On the eve of Neil's 72nd birthday, guest Babbo provides a preview of a long delayed "lost" album finally slated for official release.

October Programs

Sep 30, 2017

September 30 & October 7, 2017
An Alternate Oktoberfest

Celebrate the Munich festival with samples of the West German progressive rock movement of the early 1970's. We'll hear from Guru Guru, Frumpy, Jane, Birth Control, Eloy, King Ping Meh, the Scorpions (long before their 1980 MTV success), and many more.

September Programs

Sep 1, 2017

September 2, 2017
Paul Butterfield Blues Band

The influential Chicago group featuring guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Pigout at the Park guest Elvin Bishop.

September 9, 2017
David Gates Before the Bread Rolled In

A cross section of David's early studio work as a songwriter, arranger, and producer for a remarkable variety of performers prior to his best-selling Bread group. Includes collaborations with his fellow Tulsa transplant Leon Russell.

August Programs

Aug 2, 2017

August 5, 2017
Little Walter

A tribute to harmonica player and vocalist Little Walter, a man often called the Charlie Parker of blues harp and a mainstay of Muddy Water's classic 1950's band.

August 12, 2017
Milk from the Tree

Female vocal folk and singer-songwriters from 1966 to 1973 including Sandy Denny, Judee Sill, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Jackie Deshannon.

July Programs

Jul 1, 2017

July 1, 2017
The Original Psychadelic Folk Rock Blues Band

The Grateful Dead in the early days of 1966 and 1967 captured live up and down the West Coast.

July 8, 2017
The Yardbirds Fly Again

Part two of a survey started in 2000 with a career view of adventurous British band best known for launching careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.

June Programs

Jun 2, 2017

June 3, 2017
British Hard Rock Contenders

The stories of Spooky Tooth and Steamhammer, who both issued multiple quality albums with modest commercial success.

June 10, 2017
Joy Division

A look at the influential post punk from Manchester U.K. band featuring vocalist Ian Curtis and future members of New Order.

June 17, 2017
Second Stax of Memphis

A follow-up to a 2007 show, with highlights from the second box set of Stax singles focused on 1968 to 1971 and the transition from soul to funk.

May Programs

May 3, 2017

May 6, 2017
Still Going Fast

Check Berry, Hoyt Axton, the Beach Boys, and Spokane's own Charlie Ryan with tales of vehicles and their drivers that zoom by you in an instant. A follow-up to a 2009 episode.

May 13, 2017
Bob Dylan's Epics

Some of the recent Nobel Prize winner's greatest long songs, including the best ever live version of "Desolation Row."

April Programs

Apr 3, 2017

April 1, 2017
Leon Russell
A birthday eve tribute to the recently departed Oklahome born singer/songwriter (encore from 11/28/09)

April 8, 2017

Formed at Whitman College, this Northwest band has attained huge success in Germany but little recognition in their homeland (encore from 6/22/13)

April 15, 2017
The First Rocking Soul Band

Led by influential guitar Lowman Pauling, the Five Royales blazed a trail in the 1950's for the soul sounds of the next decade.

March Programs

Feb 25, 2017

March 4, 2017
Through the Looking Glass

A special effects packed singles from the U.K.'s psychedelic explosion of the late 1960's. Including such nearly lost in time worthies as Dantalion's Chariot, the Tickle, the Rats, Rupert's People, and the Crocheted Doughnut Ring.

February Programs

Jan 31, 2017

February 4 & 11, 2017
Here Comes Summer

The ice and snow will eventually melt, that's a promise. Meanwhile change your own climate with a two part special on songs about summer and the warmer days ahead. Including Bob Dylan, the Monkees, Flaming Lips, B 52's, Peggy Lee, Gordon Lightfoot, Ramones, Jimi Hendrix, and many more.

December Programs

Nov 26, 2016

December 3, 2016
Phil Seymour

Guest Bob Gallagher brings the story of this overlooked Oklahoma born drummer/vocalist including work with Dwight Twilley, the Textones, and his own solo albums.

November Programs

Nov 4, 2016

November 5, 2016
Rock & Roll Survivor

A profile of vocalist and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock,  including his solo career and time as member of Derek & the Dominoes with Eric Clapton.

November 12 , 2016
Blue Cheer

An encore presentation from 2000 on the San Francisco band often credited as the original pioneers of heavy rock.

October Programs

Sep 29, 2016

October 1, 2016
Yo La Tengo

A career survey of the Hoboken, New Jersey indie rock band led by Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley. Lots of guitar strumming and acute observations on life.

October 8, 2016
Archive Show

John revisits an old favorite with guest host Don Adair

October 15, 2016
From Big Screen to Turntable

Guest Jerry Giles with samples of actors and actresses who pursued musical stardom including Connie Stevens, Annette, Robert Mitchum, and Patty Duke.

September Programs

Sep 2, 2016

September 3, 2016
The Bristol Sound of Trip Hop

A two part survey of the early 1990's southern U.K. bred blend of hip hop, electronica, and soulfully detached vocals, all overlaid with thunderous dub influenced bass and drums. Including Massive Attack, Portishead, Sneaker Pimps, Bjork, Olive, Beth Orton, Mono, and more.

September 10, 2016
More Country Funk

Per listener request, a follow-up to our 2012 survey of vintage blends of country, soul, and rock including Charlie Rich, Brenda Lee, Millie Jackson, and Tony Joe White.

August Programs

Aug 1, 2016

August 6, 2016
Tommy Bolin's Guitar Genius
A 65th birthday celebration for late Iowa-born guitarist/vocalist whose adventurous style was a full decade ahead of it's time. Including live and studio sessions.

August 13, 2016
Spencer Davis Group

Vintage British R & B from this Birmingham band, featuring precocious teenage vocalist and keyboardist Stevie Winwood.

July Programs

Jun 28, 2016

July 16, 2016
Beatnik Rock & Roll

Art collides with commerce as Mel Torme, Rod McKuen, Babs Gonzalez and others capture the pre-hippie era on wax. Sunglasses and beret are optional.

July 23, 2016
Eccentric British multi instrumentalist is profiled through his solo career plus founding roles in the Move, Wizzard, and Electric Light Orchestra.

June Programs

May 28, 2016

June 4, 2016

SPR's Brian Lindsay with a career sampling from one of pop music's transformative figures.

June 11, 2016
The Hottest
Electrified 1970's soul from the Invictus and Hot Wax labels run by Holland/Dozier/Holland, including Honey Cone, Chairmen of the Board, Laura Lee, and Freda Payne.

May Programs

Apr 30, 2016

May 7, 2016
A tribute to the recently deceased Indiana guitarist whose early 1960's mix of rock and roll, blues, country, and gospel was well ahead of his contemporaries.

May 13, 2016
From Blues to Hip
A career retrospective on Johnny "Guitar" Watson covering his journey from blues guitar maestro of the 1950's through his much sampled funk workouts of the 1980's.

April Programs

Mar 30, 2016

April 2, 2016
Mixtures of country, rock, soul, and funk as seamlessly blended by Bobbie Gentry, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Bobby Darin, and many more (encore from 10/6/12).

April 9, 2016
A Tribute to
Founding father of speed metal Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister from his early British Invasion years through the psychedelic Hawkwind and into his own legendary band Motorhead.

March Programs

Feb 28, 2016

March 5, 2016
Smart People Making Good
British bands Saint Etienne and Everything But the Girl both feature a winning combination of synthesizers, quirky lyrics, melodic hooks, and semi-detached female vocals.

March 12, 2016
Who Was Tina Brooks?

A tribute to this neglected hard bop tenor saxophonist who briefly flourished at the legendary Blue Note label (follow-up to a 1995 show).

February Programs

Jan 30, 2016

February 6, 2016
Good timey folk rock from popular New York City band with a mix of hits, B-sides, album tracks, and soundtrack work.

February 13, 2016

February 20, 2016
A survey of mostly undiscovered club music from Antwerp and Brussels featuring vintage pre-Beatles American pop often sporting a cha cha beat.

January Programs

Dec 30, 2015

January 2, 2016
Motown and the Birth of Northern Soul Pt 2
A two part survey on the powerful impact of America's greatest black music label on an entire generation of club goers in the northern half of England. Kim Weston, Brenda Holloway, Edwin Starr, and Eddie Holland were just a few of the overlooked American performers who became major stars in Manchester, Wigan, Blackpool, Sheffield, and elsewhere away from the London mainstream. A remarkable story with amazing music at the center of it all.

December Programs

Nov 30, 2015

December 5, 2015
A Tribute to Chris Squire

Special guest Doug Buckley with a career retrospective on this influential bass player and founding member of the legendary progressive band Yes.

December 12, 2015
The Strawbs

This long running British cult band made an unlikely transformation from bluegrass to folk to keyboard dominated prog-rock during an extended run of U.K. sales chart success.

November Programs

Nov 12, 2015

November 7, 2015
Faith Band

Special guest Bob Gallagher shares the music and details of this underrated Indianapolis group.

November 14, 2015
Second Can
This influential and highly experimental German band of the 1970's gets a second listen, including highlights from their recently unearthed tape vaults. (Follow-up to a 1996 show).

October Programs

Sep 29, 2015

October 5, 2015
Aretha's B-Sides

Highlights from Aretha Franklin's many hidden gems from her glory years at Atlantic Records as the undisputed Queen of Soul.

October 12, 2015
Ron Wood

Venerable English guitarist/vocalist, including his work with the Birds, Jeff Beck, Faces, Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones, plus tidbits from his always interesting solo releases.

September Programs

Aug 30, 2015

September 5, 2015
What's So Bad About Louie Louie?

Early 1970's bands rejected the era's peace and love sensibilities for a more basic garage rock approach. Hear from some, including Brownsville Station, Frut, the Droogs, and the Flamin' Groovies.

September 12, 2015
The Rockin' Hawkins

A retrospective on vocalists Dale and Ronnie Hawkins, first cousins who took very different routes to their spots in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

July Programs

Jul 3, 2015

July 4, 2015
Celebrate Independence Day with the Grateful Dead on tour from what many faithful regard as their peak period. Includes material liberated from the Dead archives via recent reissue projects.

July 11, 2015
The Great Missing Grateful Dead Album
More from the legendary April/May, 1972 tour of Europe featuring a whole batch of new songs.

August Programs

Apr 8, 2015

August 1, 2015
The Story Tellers

Career highlights from a pair of country's best songwriters ever, Tom T. Hall and Roger Miller.

August 8, 2015
Seventy Years Later

A cross section of pop reactions to the first atomic bombs and their aftermath.

August 15, 2015
The Wanderer

The remarkable journey of Dion DiMucci from doo-wop to rock & roll and on to singer/songwrite folk rock (follow-up to a 1998 episode).

April Programs

Apr 1, 2015

April 5, 2015
Apple Capitol Rock and Roll

Guest Dustin Hayes with the remarkable story and music of Julian Records from Wenatchee, a small label run by a local deejay (encore from August, 2014).

April 12, 2015
Bobby Womack

Career survey of multi talented singer/songwriter from his start in the family gospel group  to chart success as a smooth r & b balladeer. 

April 19, 2015
Gene Vincent Could Sing Anything

Focus on the under recognized versatility of this 1950's rockabilly icon.

March Programs

Feb 26, 2015

March 7, 2015
Forster &
A survey of the solo careers of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan from Australia's great pop band of the 1980's, the Go-Betweens, from Brisbane.

March 14, 2015
The Ike & Tina Turner Review
Powerful rhythm & blues and soul from what was called by many the best live attraction of their era.