When he's not playing rock with his students, Johnson plays mostly blues. "It's something I really love, though I also love the Beatles, and I'm a giant Zeppelin head." Asked his favorite guitarist, he thinks about it then says, "Eric Clapton." To hear Johnson play a killer electric twelve-bar, google "Guitar Center King of the Blues '07," and stand back.
The center's not a one-man band. "Karen King is very important," Johnson says. "I started it, but she's the force that drives the growth. She's filled with limitless energy, and she's made my job so much easier. She came to learn drums eight years ago, and a couple years later, she's running the place!"
"I asked him if he could teach old ladies to drum," King says when I talk to her later in the Ann Arbor Modern Conservatory's tastefully decorated front room. "I've always loved percussion, but I thought you had to be born with some special talent. But I started in August and practiced every day, and they put me in a band in December! Now I wonder why more people don't do it. Because I know what it did for me, what it did for my soul, and I want everyone to have this experience."