Sam Johnson’s love for music goes back to his adolescent years, when he learned Bob Marley and Sublime songs on hand me down instruments, and started a reggae band at his high school in Huntington Beach, California. This early influence inspired him to create his laid-back, soulful blend of pop, rock, and reggae styles that he describes as “quintessential California music”.
But he says his music career really started 8 years ago in San Francisco, where he street performed 5 days a week in the hectic, carnival-like atmosphere of Fisherman’s Wharf. Dodging seagulls and competing with the other street performers for the tourists’ attention, Sam’s chops developed at an accelerated rate. “The first day I played in the wharf, I made $60. I knew one day I would make $600!” In this way Sam supported himself full-time for more than 2 years - one CD at a time, one dollar at a time. He says “it was like touring the world from a street corner.”
Many of the successes and relationships Sam has had since then are directly related to his time spent busking. During his street performing years, he made thousands of fans from all around the world who support him to this day. So much, in fact, that his fans fully funded his third EP “The City” through Kickstarter, backing the project with nearly $10,000. The album’s lead single “The City” received airplay on San Francisco’s Live 105 FM for several weeks.
Although he is no longer street performing, Sam maintains a busy performance schedule with over 200 shows per year touring at college campuses across the US, performing at festivals, and corporate and private events, and the Ritz Carlton San Francisco invited him to be their resident performer, a spot which he has held for the past 5 years. In 2016, Sam joined top 40 artist Andy Grammer on his west coast tour, performing for thousands of fans each night as his opening act. Since then, Sam has shared stages with many big pop and reggae artists including Shwayze, Collie Buddz, Flipsyde, Common Kings, The Holdup, Leilani Wolfgramm, Anuhea, Mike Love, and more. Recently Sam won the Sixthman Soundcheck competition to perform on the Sail Across The Sun music festival at sea. He will set sail with with Train, Matt Nathanson, Ezra Ray Hart, Allen Stone, and other popular artists in February 2020 and he will also be performing at BottleRock Napa Valley in May 2020.
Sam’s original music is also frequently featured in TV shows on MTV, FOX, NBC, BRAVO, and SPIKE. Macy’s used Sam’s version of “In The Midnight Hour” for their popular nationwide Black Friday ad campaign for 2 years in a row. He has also written songs specifically for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) that they keep in regular rotation.
Sam signed a deal with start-up label Text Me Records in 2018, and has since released half a dozen singles, with hundreds of thousands of Spotify plays, and his song “Faded” debuted at #3 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts. A new full length album is on the way in 2020.