Rick Johnson passes

Rick Johnson, once of Southern Blend, passed away on Monday, March 18, 2019. He was 64 years old and lived in Stanford, KY. 

Dennis Richard “Rick” Johnson was born on January 5, 1955, in Indianapolis. 

He came from a family of musicians and singers, and grew up in a home that loved Gospel and bluegrass music. Rick was a member of John Cosby and the Bluegrass Drifters, who were the first to win the SPBGMA band contest in Nashville, TN. 

Cosby recorded one LP, released on the Ohio-based label Ark Records, on which Johnson is featured, playing mandolin and singing the lead and baritone parts. Johnson penned one song included on that album; Two Children in The Garden. 

John Cosby and the Bluegrass Drifters made regular appearances at Renfro Valley. 

He was a founding member of Southern Blend, formed in 1984, along with former members of the Bluegrass Drifters – Wayne Fields and Bill Fields – and Rickey Wasson. 

Another of Johnson’s songs, Two Children, is on the second of the two Southern Blend LPs. 

Southern Blend disbanded in 1995 whereupon Johnson chose to stop performing, but music was always a big part of his life and around the home. 

Shane Bartley described Johnson as “one of the best baritone singers ever!”, going on to say, “the trio of Rick Johnson, Wayne Fields, and Rickey Wasson in Southern Blend, is one of the best ever.”

R.I.P. Rick Johnson.

We are very grateful to Rickey Wasson for his considerable help in providing core information for this obituary. 

A Discography

John Cosby and the Bluegrass Drifters – 

  • Free Wind (Ark Records – 821152, released in 1980) 

Southern Blend – 

  • Spend Some Time with Southern Blend (Old Homestead OHS 90180, 1987)
  • Once Again (Old Homestead OHS 90185, 1988) 

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.