Eagle Johnson Bio
“Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine possess the qualities that my favorite rock and roll has...smart, soulful, and a little bit dangerous.”
- Pat Sansone | Wilco
Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine make raw, left-of-center rock & roll.
It's a sound that's grounded in the rootsy stomp of the band's Nashville headquarters, as well as the sunny influence of Johnson's childhood years in Florida. Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine nod to both of those locations with their debut album, Tennessee Beach. Sometimes punchy, sometimes psychedelic, and always melodic, Tennessee Beach is the sound of a songwriter who has rebelled, traveled, sinned, and done hard time before coming out on the other side with renewed inspiration.
Eagle's path to Tennessee Beach was long and winding, involving a defiant streak during early adulthood that ultimately found him behind bars for a breaking-and-entering charge involving a Florida church, then in a hospital for mental evaluation. (It turns out the prosecuting judge was the grandson of the church's original founder.) A hospital patient for six months, Eagle was allowed to play guitar as a form of therapy. By the time he was released with a clean bill of health, he'd evolved into a genuine songwriter, using music as a way not only to make sense of his world, but to change it, too. Eagle says he found jailhouse religion and peace with God while he was locked up, and considers songwriting and performing a reverent experience for him.
Zeke Johnson | Photo by Eagle Johnson
Drawn to blues and American folk music, Eagle headed to Memphis, where he began playing local shows — including opening gigs alongside Valerie June — and attracted the attention of blues artist Zeke Johnson. Zeke took Eagle under his wing, giving him the confidence to pursue a lifelong career as a songwriter while also serving as the inspiration for Eagle's new name: Eagle Johnson. After cutting his teeth on the Memphis circuit for several years, Eagle Johnson relocated once again, this time to Nashville. There, he rolled his influences into an expanded sound, playing a brand of redemptive rock & roll that nodded to iconic artists of the past while still pushing forward.
Recorded to analog tape in three days at East Nashville's Bomb Shelter studio, Tennessee Beach marks Johnson's full-length debut, offering up a batch of guitar-driven songs about loving, leaving, and living with intention. He produced the album with his band, Clean Machine, working alongside Billy Bennett (engineer of the Whigs' Give Em All a Big Fat Lip). Inspired by the Beatles, Kings of Leon, classic reggae artists, pop singer Kimbra (whose bandmates Timon Martin and Stevie McQuinn Jr. make cameo appearances on the album), and others, Tennessee Beach casts a net as wide and compelling as Eagle Johnson's own past.