The first and only time I met jazz musician Howard Johnson, I was a very young reporter volunteering my time for a small radio station. I was covering a benefit concert at SUNY New Paltz. I had never heard of Howard Johnson, but everybody else there seemed to know him well. He was so nice to me, even though I obviously had no idea what I was doing. And I found out that day he was an amazing and very well liked musican. That’s my personal history with Howard Johnson.

Through the years I came to learn what a talented and respected musician Howard Johnson is. He has played with countless talented musicians, and was a master on the tuba, saxophone and other instruments. I think he was someone you could call a musician’s musician.

Needless to say, I was so sad when I went on facebook the other day and found out that Howard Johnson had passed away. I saw post after post from Hudson Valley musicians who have either played with Howard or wish they had. Howard played with such notables as Levon Helm and Taj Mahal, he led the Saturday Night Live Band and also played on Steve Martin’s King Tut. And his career goes way beyond that.

Howard was 79 when he passed away earlier this week on Jan. 11. Luckily, his music lives on forever. I will always remember Howard Johnson as a great musician, and as that really nice guy who treated me like an equal when I was clearly not. My heart goes out to his friends, his family and his fans.

Rock Stars Who Have Lived in Woodstock