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Don Johnson: 1949–2008

Don Johnson, the editor of Musical Merchandise Review (MMR), passed away on May 1 following a protracted battle with cancer. He was 59 years old. Johnson had served as the editor of MMR for the past 25 years, guiding the publication from old-school trade journalism into the digital age. During his time at MMR, he developed a reputation as a thoughtful writer and editor who covered the musical products industry from all angles.

Sid Davis, publisher of MMR, said Johnson was a very private man, who worked right up until his last day on earth. “That’s the kind of guy he was,” Davis said. “I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone in this industry, and he loved his work.”

Johnson was born in Ohio and majored in journalism at Ohio University where he graduated cum laude. He began his journalism career in weekly newspapers. He joined the Larkin Group as a staff writer and later became editor of Music Retailer magazine, a now-defunct trade journal for the record industry. When Larkin acquired MMR in 1981, Johnson became the magazine’s editor, a post he held until his passing. MMR is currently owned by Symphony Publishing.

“Don was a darned good competitor,” said Frank Alkyer, Music Inc. publisher. “We’d work like crazy to beat him to a story and vice versa, but when we’d see each other at a trade show, we’d shake hands, tip our hats to each other and even have a quick drink. He was a fine writer and an even better human being. We’ll miss Don Johnson.”