None of the current reigning guitar deities can surpass Eric Johnson for sheer range. There seems to be no musical turf that the Austin-born phenom can't dig into and hit pay dirt. Over more than two decades, Johnson's monster chops have taken on most every genre and -- when business didn't get in the way -- typically brought on critical gushing and another pack of fans. Alongside his own catalogue, Johnson has amassed a session résumé with performers as diverse as Carole King, Chet Atkins, and Dweezil Zappa.
Early buzz, pegging him as a top-notch jazz-rock fusionist, as well as hype from Lone Star homeboys like Johnny Winter, launched Johnson's trek toward fame. Unreleased and poorly promoted solo albums slowed things up. Johnson got big-time payback, though, with the response to his landmark 1990 release, Ah Via Musicom. The disc went platinum, landed him a Grammy, and scored a record-setting three Top 10 instrumentals. Johnson further raised his profile by touring in G3, a trio with fellow six-string legends Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Just out on Vai's Favored Nations label is Bloom, a 16-track set formatted as a three-piece suite, on which Johnson embraces techno-rock, country, and classical, as well as jazz stylings from "The Wave" to Wes Montgomery.