Thursday, November 24, 2005

In Memory of Dax Johnson...

On the morning of November 23rd - just three days ago now - I found out that a very dear friend of mine, pianist Dax Johnson, had died. I have been grieving him ever since. You see, Dax was a very important person in my life. He influenced my music and career in so many ways. I loved him like a brother, and the two of us shared a special connection, something musical as well as emotional and even to a degree, spiritual.

Chances are, you, my reader, have no idea who Dax Johnson was. Well, I want to tell you about him. It's the least I can do, and probably the best thing I can do to honor him. So please, read on. If not for Dax, for me. Let me share a bit of him with you.

I first saw Dax around nine or ten years ago. He was playing an old out-of-tune upright piano at a street market in Portland, Oregon. I remember thinking to myself, "Who is this guy? He's amazing..."

And he truly was. He had an irresistible charisma. If you just stood there watching him play, you were drawn into him. His music was hypnotic, as was the way he moved at the piano. His body was constantly fluid, always moving, weaving, never stopping - riding the emotional wave of his very unique compositions. He was ONE with the instrument, like no one else I had seen before. And his "look" was also unusual for a piano player - he had long, straight black hair, an unshaven face, black street clothes and tattoos. You'd never guess he was a composer for solo piano. He looked far more "heavy metal" than "classical."

On that particular day in Portland, I watched him for awhile and then moved on. I didn't meet Dax that day. I never spoke to him. I was just one of the many people in the crowd, admiring him from a distance. As far as I knew, I'd never see him again.

Well, life is a funny thing...

About two years later, I received an email from Dax. At this point, I had no recollection of who he was and nothing in his email clued me in. He told me he was a fellow pianist based out of Spokane, WA, and that he was a HUGE fan of my music. He thought my CD, The Vigil (which was my newest at the time) was incredible. I thanked him, and told him I really appreciated receiving such a compliment from another piano player. Then he asked if he could send me his own CD to listen to. I said "Sure, go ahead," and a week or so later I received Merciful Dwelling in the mail.

Dax's CD grabbed me immediately. The things Dax did on that album were brave, bold and interesting. He took musical risks I never would never dream of taking on a solo piano album. One of the things that really struck me was that the album was imperfect. It wasn't studio polished - and it didn't matter. The music was RAW energy, pure EMOTION, VIBRANT and alive. Dax's piano music just wrenched at my heart. It was so sad - such painful music - and yet so extraordinarily beautiful. I was completely in love with the album.

I emailed Dax to tell him how much I enjoyed his music, and then he sent me back a link to an article the local paper did on him. The article included a picture of him playing on an old upright in the street (see the clipping at right). That was the moment I realized who I had been chatting with over email - it was that "heavy metal" piano player I saw in Portland a couple years before! I was completely startled by this. THIS guy loves MY piano music? I was taken aback because, by this time, I had an immense respect for him, not just as a pianist, but as an artist.

Dax's album, Merciful Dwelling, went on to become one of the single most important influences on my own piano music. No other pianist, aside from George Winston (who I credit with turning me on to the idea of composing for piano in the first place), has had more influence on my musical direction.

After that initial email exchange, Dax and I kept in touch somewhat irregularly by telephone. One day, Dax called me out of the blue to tell me he was coming through my home town and wanted to meet. And so, I invited him into my home. Dax and I hit it off immediately. It was like we had known each other for years, when in fact we had never actually met face to face. I played a new song for him on my piano (I remember playing Ludwig's Dream for him while he laid on the floor with his eyes closed just taking it in) and he played a song for me, one he said was influenced by my music. What an honor that was.

Dax then told me he wanted to introduce me to his brother, Maka, who was also his booking agent and manager at that time. Dax wanted to hook me up with him so we could perform together at some point. I thought it was a great idea, and I was quite taken with the idea of playing a concert with Dax. After more conversation, we said our good-byes, and Dax hit the road, heading for Hercules, California to play a house concert.

It was a couple of years after that before I saw Dax again, though we did speak on the phone several times. Eventually, our schedules worked out in such a way that we were able to perform together. All told, Dax and I played three concerts together, two in Portland and one in Vancouver, Washington. The Vancouver show, at "The Slocum House Theatre," was one of the most delightful times I ever had with Dax. The venue was quite small - about 60 seats or so - which is the style of venue I prefer. I remember the piano being really low to the ground - I had a hard time getting my knees under the keyboard! But what a night that was sharing the stage with Dax. And afterward, he and I had a very nice discussion about life, the universe, and everything.

Just prior to that concert, Dax and I shared time playing a "mall gig" to promote the show. Dax was simply amazing in a mall gig situation. You should have seen it. He would sit down at the piano (or two - sometimes he'd play TWO pianos at the same time - one with each hand), and start playing and within five minutes he'd have a huge crowd buying his CDs. He'd play for ten minutes, sell 20 or 30 CDs, and then take a 30 minute break. It was quite the spectacle, and I was constantly amazed at the natural CHARISMA he had. Something about him appealed to almost everyone. When you combined that with his look, the music, his emotive performance and the unusual things he would do at the piano (playing two of them at a time, muting the piano strings with mallets, and even playing the strings with guitar picks), he just seemed unstoppable. He definitely had the "it" factor. I have never met another pianist who could, simply by sitting down and playing, sell as many CDs as Dax did in such a short period of time.

Over the years, Dax and I became very good friends. I would encourage him, pray for him and with him, and just listen to whatever was going in his head. Dax shared with me many of his thoughts and inner struggles. He seemed to dwell very much on his imperfections, which he was all too painfully aware of. As much as those shortcomings bothered him, he also felt, very strongly, that they were what made him who he was as an artist. We talked about that once, in great detail - how the pain in his life shaped his music and how that pain led him to the piano in the first place. He commented to me that his music was a reflection of his state of mind, that his music was, essentially, "The Mind of Dax." Dax was always at battle with himself, and while those battles kept him on the edge of an emotional precipice, they also inspired great art.

The last time I saw Dax was the fall of 2004. We played a concert together in Portland and he was stunning, as usual. After that, he disappeared - his phone number disconnected. I received an email from him a few months later letting me know that he was in LA recording a new album. That was back in in April of 2005. I responded to him, but never heard back. That was, sadly, the last time I ever heard from him.

Two weeks ago I met up with his brother, Maka, and found out that Dax wasn't doing well at all. He had been living in the streets of LA. I felt an urgency to pray for him, and did so. But less than two weeks later - just three days ago now - Dax had died. He was only thirty years old.

It is such a tragedy. Dax was unique. Truly, one of a kind. He was a man with a big heart, deep thoughts and amazing music. He was always in turmoil, emotionally and spiritually, but those things never really fazed me. I cared for Dax deeply. I felt more connected to Dax than I do most people. I can't explain why, only that I loved him like a brother. Our souls understood each other, somehow. I think that is part of the reason that time and again he kept coming back to our friendship. It was something solid and sure in his drifting, uncertain world.

Dax had such a monumental impact on my music and career. He introduced Kathy Parsons (who writes for Wind and Wire magazine as well as Solo Piano Publications) to my music, who has since become one of the central figures in my career as a pianist. His album, Merciful Dwelling, got me excited about being a pianist and composer again, and inspired new music in me - much of my latest CD Overcome has traces of his influence. The song When the Hard Rains Come on that album is very specifically dedicated to him. Dax, through his example, taught me how play for an audience and entertain them. Dax introduced me to his brother, who got me many of the gigs I still play today. In fact, I'm playing one of those this weekend. Dax's influence can be seen all over my life as a pianist.

Dax, I will miss you. On this "Happy Thanksgiving" weekend, I am so, incredibly grateful for having known you. I only wish, oh HOW I WISH, that I would have been able to somehow speak to you during these last couple of weeks. I cannot help but to feel that I could have made a difference. That today would just be another day and you'd still be playing your incredible music and amazing audiences.

Oh, Dax, my dear friend. My brother. Rest in Peace. You left us all much too soon.

Dax Johnson, March 29th, 1975 - November 23rd, 2005.

For more information on Dax Johnson, visit his web site, www.daxjohnson.com . You can hear his music there, as well.

Sadly,

David Nevue

The follow up to this post, "In Memory of Dax Johnson, Part 2" is now available.

67 Comments:

Anonymous Darnesha said...

That was an amazing thing to read, Mr. Nevue. I'm praying for your comfort and peace... Much love.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Chuck Brown said...

A beautiful tribute, David.

I probably should have been, but was not aware of Dax's music. I will most certainly check it out.

Sounds like we lost a very special guy.

c-

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Philip Wesley said...

Very sad news David. I know how much you admired him and he meant so much to you and a lot of people. He will be missed. Find solace in the fact that he is in a far better place than us.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous TamaraP said...

Thank you for writing about your friend Dax, David. I think there are as many different griefs as there are people to experience them. I will pray for you, Dax and his brother. God bless, Tamara

"Because it seems to say that one's as good as another, or two new ones are better than one that's lost. I've been thinking about it a great deal, and it seems to me that although any one sixpence is as good as any other sixpence, not twenty lambs would do instead of one sheep whose face you knew. Somehow, when once you've looked into anybody's eyes, right deep down into them, I mean, nobody will do for that one anymore. Nobody, ever so beautiful or so good, will make up for that one going out of sight."
George MacDonald - At The Back of the North Wind

4:26 PM  
Blogger johntwoods said...

David,
i'm absolutely stunned. i just learned of Dax Johnson's death through your website. I've been a fan for a while, purchasing my first dax album a few years back when i saw him for the first time playing at saturday market. i moved away to vegas for college and then LA and realized just 10 minutes ago that I haven't checked in on what he's been up to for a while. so i thought i'd just see what was up, so i googled him and found this. man, everything hurts. what terrible, terrible news.
thanks for your words.

john t. woods
Los Angeles, CA
johntwoods@yahoo.com

8:50 PM  
Blogger johntwoods said...

David,
i'm absolutely stunned. i just learned of Dax Johnson's death through your blog. I've been a fan for a while, purchasing my first dax album a few years back when i saw him for the first time playing at saturday market. i moved away to vegas for college and then relocated to LA and realized just 10 minutes ago that I haven't checked in on what he's been up to for a while. so i thought i'd just see what was up, so i googled him and found this. man, everything hurts. what terrible, terrible news.

john t. woods
Los Angeles, CA
johntwoods@yahoo.com

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

David, i was so shocked to hear of his death. You know i have been a fan of his (and your) music ever since i first heard it. I'm so sorry that we have lost such a great guy.

Paul Goodman (England)

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never forget one night flipping thru the channels on the tv one night and hearing this wonderful music. I just stopped and couldnt believe what I was hearing coming from someone that looked like a hard core rocker. I am hoping someone reading this can point me in the right direction so I can buy his CD's. Thank you David for putting up this blog on and amazing and talented human being...so sad.

kittycarlile@hotmail.com

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Liz C. said...

Such sad news. You introduced me to Dax when I attended your concert in Portland last fall. I was mesmerized and fascinated. Thanks for telling the whole story - I feel like I know him, too. And now grieve, as well.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I am one of those people that happened upon Dax playing at a mall in Spokane. After hearing him play for just a little bit, I had to take some of his music home with me. He was an amazing performer. I am listening to one of his CD's right now.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Brother D said...

My wife just called me from work to let me know that she was sharing one of Dax's CDs with a coworker. Her coworker enjoyed the music, so together, they went online to check out his website, and she just found out that he had passed away.

I realize that I just found this out several months after the fact, and for that, I'm even more regretful.

My wife and I met Dax just once, briefly, at Lloyd Center. We bought the two CDs he had available at the time, and they became musical staples around our home. Later, when a third CD became available, we bought it, too. His music, and more imnportantly, the brief conversation we had with him that day at Lloyd Center touched us.

I'm not a musician. However, I am a writer, and Dax's music always moved me.

He will be mourned. He will be missed.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Bo said...

There aren't many people I look up to...

Yesterday morning, I was on my way to a Dax show in California. Many of my relatives were there as well hoping to see him. When I arrived, the manager told me that there wouldn't be a performance. Now I do not recall if he told me why, but I woke up thinking of Dax's funeral. The look on his wife's face whom I have met on occasion and the disbelief of his children.

Today is Wednesday, March 15th, 2006 and I am recollecting this dream. I log onto his website where I find information about someone's passing. I'm reading through it and I'm selfishly hoping with all that I have that it is only a friend of Dax, anyone but him. I see they reference him by his birth name Christopher, which I hadn't known was his birth name since I'd only called him Dax, and momentarily, I was relieved. But after all the sadness I felt from the post, I felt compelled to watch one of the memorial videos.

There were pictures of his childhood and below it, his nickname, Dax.

This hit me, and is still hitting me harder than anything has in a long time. I can only explain it that there are very, very few people I look up to and admire in this world.

One was Dax Johnson. He was a musical genius who had love for his family and his fans. Once you heard him play, you saw into his heart and his mind. Most of his songs were about his family; especially his children.

I met him on many occasions in Portland, Seattle, and Spokane. He'd always invite me out to a drink even though I wasn't of age. He even offered to put me and my friends up in a hotel just for coming to see him in Seattle, which I gladly accepted. Every time we spoke, I was his equal, and there was nothing more to it than that.

Seeing him play was the only thing that kept every bad thought from coming into my mind. He meant a lot to me. He made me believe that if he could make it in this world, so could I. If all the things that could darken ones mind could not be ignored, but also not be allowed to take over ones entire self, then I could make it. He’d found the way, all hope was not lost.

The first time I saw him play was at the Clackamas Town Center Mall. My girlfriend and I were walking on the second level to leave, when we heard him. I stopped, and we listened above him. 10 minutes later I wanted to go meet him. We went down, listened some more and I eventually got up the courage to buy a CD (The Random and the Purpose) and ask him to sign it. While he was signing it, I said I really liked the song he was playing. He said, “It’s George Winston”. I replied, “Yea, off his December album, right?” He asked me if I played, I said no, but I wished I had. I thanked him and off we went.

A couple of months later, it was Christmas time. My girlfriend and I were this time looking around for gifts at Pioneer Place in Portland, and Dax was on the bottom floor. His music reached every floor with a resounding presence. We listened for longer this time. My girlfriend offered to buy me his first album for a Christmas Gift and I very much liked that idea. During a break, I asked him to sign it, which he did, and also recognized me. “Hey! The Clackamas guy, right?” Even though I wasn’t from Clackamas, I had no problem with being attached to the nickname. He only had a few minutes to talk and have a break so I thanked him and left him to play again.

Every single time I saw Dax, I was given the feeling of acceptance. He always seemed to talk someone for who they were. I once drove to Spokane from Portland to watch him play at the Big Easy, which was coincidentally one that they recorded. I saw him reach out to so many people. I even got my hands on the Dax bumper stickers that people had been sporting in Spokane and had it on my car back in my hometown. He was definitely a local celebrity, and for good reason. Watch the DVD, you’ll see why.

The last time I saw him play was in Portland, with you Mr. Nevue. He sat next to me and my girlfriend, while another pianist, Michael Allan Harrison, performed. As always, he joked around and talked with me until he had to go pick up his wife from the Airport.

That was the last time I saw him.

In a world full of desolation and destitute endeavors, Dax made me hopeful. I felt that he saw things for what they were, and found a way to encourage these perceptions into his music. As you called it Mr. Nevue, the Mind of Dax. Speaking without words, only his piano(s).

If only he had showed up to my fictional concert in California, if only I had been able to speak with him, I would have proudly stood by him through all his troubles. "If only" must be the most popular way to begin a sentence when dealing with someone who was so obviously cut short. If only... it wasn't a dream. Or rather, if only this was.

I'll remember you and the bottomless memories you provided me Dax, Always.

"Bo from Clackamas"
bojitt@gmail.com

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Hello,
My name is Rebecca Kramer and I am the House Manager at Slocum House Theatre. This is the first I have heard of Dax passing. My heart is very sad. I enjoyed his music. My prayers are with you and his family.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Lonnie Pierce said...

I'm not a musician of any sorts but I lived the exact moments of your opening comments about Dax. I had never heard of him before but my wife and myself both traveling through Portland back in 2003 stumbled upon Dax playing in the middle of the mall and being one to never care for any sort of music other than heavy metal, I found myself captivated by the intensity and the emotion coming from his songs and his overall character...Simply amazing to say the least. Hearing and seeing Dax play ended up turning what was to be a short excursion in the mall into a most joyful moment in life that I enjoyed until it was over. I felt like he was reaching right in to my heart and my soul and exposing everything I had inside of me and letting it free. Without ever knowing him I can honestly say that it is a very sad loss to the world that he is no longer with us...

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Lonnie Pierce said...

I'm not a musician of any sorts but I lived the exact moments of your opening comments about Dax. I had never heard of him before but my wife and myself both traveling through Portland back in 2003 stumbled upon Dax playing in the middle of the mall and being one to never care for any sort of music other than heavy metal, I found myself captivated by the intensity and the emotion coming from his songs and his overall character...Simply amazing to say the least. Hearing and seeing Dax play ended up turning what was to be a short excursion in the mall into a most joyful moment in life that I enjoyed until it was over. I felt like he was reaching right in to my heart and my soul and exposing everything I had inside of me and letting it free. Without ever knowing him I can honestly say that it is a very sad loss to the world that he is no longer with us...

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm am a friend of a young lady who knew Dax very well. He was a dear friend of hers. She just now found out he passed away. She doesn't have internet so i'm looking up information for her. She really needs to know where he is buried. SO if anyone can tell where that would be appreciated very much so.
Thank you!
Kari

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Jeannette Park said...

This site touched my heart. We all miss Dax so much, thank you for taking the time to put together such a beautifully profound site. He was a one of a kind... we will never forget him and I will continue to give his cd's to friends all over the world (as I did long before he passed).
Jeannette Park

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Casey K said...

Whoa, i just stumbled across this site while trying to remember the name of the pianist who used to play outside my store at clackamas town center years ago. So sad to hear he passed!! He was SO talented, i bought one of his CD's that is probably packed away right now (i moved) I used to manage the cutlery store and he'd play RIGHT outside my store sometimes, i LOVED it. So sad

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Michiel said...

I was very curious who wrote that beautiful pianosong: random and the purpos. Now, i found out what a great creative artist he was.
Touching my heart with love.. Thank You for writing this down.

And Dax your music will go on...
RIP

Michiel

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you deeply.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I recently discovered Dax Johnson and I cant tell u enough how much I love his piano solos Im actually going to buy his albums today! He's an amazing guy with stellar talent!

Im so sorry he died so young! This is a great loss to the world of music.

Im truly saddened that he's no more. And ur tribute to Dax was so very touching I cried.

TY! I hv his music playing my blog right now. It just takes me to another world. May his soul RIP!

Keshi.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Chau said...

wow. I discovered Dax Johnson and his music by luck in the internet and was immediately into his music.

I felt terrible when I found out that he is dead. Even though it's been some time now. I can imagine that listening to him live must be incredible. sadly i'll never be able to.

Your blog touched me. I am already sad about his death. How must a person feel about it who even knew him in person, listened to his music live, played gigs with him and was friends with him. When you listen to his music you feel... something... incredible.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Chris Inness said...

Do you happen to know where to get his sheet music?

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Ralf Janssen said...

David,
i was very touched to read your blog, to be honest, i still have tears in my eyes.

I heard about the music of Dax in YOUTUBE the very first time a couple of months ago.
I was researching for some videos about the 2nd WW, and there was a trailer about a silly videogame, it was an air-2-air-combat-scene underlined with his music.

I was so thrilled and touched immediatly !!

it took me several weeks to did deeper because there was no credit about the music in this trailer.

But then, i got an email and the name appeared.

After that i was shocked to learn, that this passionate piano-man died so utterly..

David, again, thank you VERY much for your words, and i'll listen to your music now, too.

With best regards and sincerly yours

Ralf Janssen
Germany

3:07 AM  
Blogger Chris D. Lowry said...

David,
You are right: I had never heard of Dax Johnson. I heard his music for the very first time only tonight, when I watched a clip on Youtube (which has nothing at all to do with music), in which a song of his is used. Someone wrote in the comments that it was "Through the storm"...

I could not help commenting on Youtube with a quote of Aldous Huxley, which I feel says everything that needs to be said about his music:

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."

4:10 PM  
Blogger Emanuela said...

I don't think things happen by chance...I've heard Dax music only few days ago and it is extraordinarily exactly how I feel inside....my troubles, my spiritual restlessness, to be always "in motion" inside and outside....I'll find the reason why I've met you only now Dax...and thanks to be in my way...
SHaLoM

p.s. I'm italian and I'm not able to find Dax CD anywhere...I need his music....thanks to everybody would help me.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Emanuela said...

I believe things doesn't happen by chance, so now I'm thinking why I've heard Dax' music only few days ago...it sounds exactly what I feel inside: my extreme spiritual restlesness, my troubles, my sense of inadequacy, my illusions...
Thanks Dax because my deep emotions finally have found an incredible sounds through your music!
P A X to everyone.

p.s. I'm italian and I'm not able to find Dax' music anywhere. If someone can help me.....Thank you

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Taryn Mesa said...

I am so sad to find this article. I just recently found one of Dax's CDs that I purchased years ago while he was playing at the Vancouver mall. Just like you described, I was amazed by his style and quickly under the spell of his music. I think I watched him for a good hour. I was just searching for Dax on the internet to find more of his albums and came across this. I know I'm a little late but this discovery is devastating and I will never forget the incredible musician, Dax Johnson. I hope his soul has found peace.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just learned of Dax's death today. I found him on iTunes a couple years ago and ever since have been looking for his albums. I didn't look for a website until now and found www.daxjohnson.com. His music is so moving and unique. "Bright Eyes" brings me to tears every time I hear it. I've been enjoying his music so much and to suddenly discover that he's been dead the whole time was a bit shocking. I still hope to find his albums through the website. I tried the piano once upon a time, but had far more appreciation than talent. Thank you for posting this. He sounds like a man I could have learned a lot from myself. Do you know where I might be able to find more information about him?
--sunlightschild@gmail.com

8:03 PM  
Blogger David Nevue said...

Hi Sunlightschild,

The only place to find information on Dax that I know of is his web site, which you're familiar with.

There was also an article posted about his memorial service at http://www.spokesmanreview.com/breaking/story.asp?ID=5486 that has some info.

He has a MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/daxjohnson as well, but not too much info there.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous LORI G said...

I live in Tn and this is 2010.. I never heard of Dax.. Corey Haim died a few days back. I went on you tube.. Someone posted a video from his reality show, and some music.Magical music.. It took me forever to find who the artist was..Im so sad to find this man has already passed.It made me cry His music,, God his music.. It moves me.. Chlorine Dream... A song hasnt made me feel so much in years.. Thanks Dax for the amazing songs you left behind. I hope I can buy his cd.. It so beautiful

5:07 AM  
Blogger en dee said...

hey david i love your blog. dax was a great friend of mine. we grew up togot together downtown spokane. i lost touch for alot of years and then ran into a girl who dax was seeing just months before he went to l.a. and died. i got to spend a little time with him before he left to l.a.. amonth or so after he left to l.a. my dad told me he read that he had died in the paper. i was shocked and very disappointed, cause i didnt see the signs that he was struggling. i loved your article and best wishes to you.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Cainha said...

found your blog (and our music) looking for Dax information.
This is a very good post, liked very much.
And your music is very special. Congratulations.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Waterlilly said...

Thank you mr. David. Dax touched my soul I did'nt know anyhing about him. Such a great musicien. Finnally I found something with meaning.He made companie in so many hard times.

This must seem dumb but I think he is my angel, I never heard his music before he passed away...well we had the same age,...we still do.

Greetings from Portugal.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Dax Johnson's music. When I heard he had passed I was very sad. I hope he knows, wherever he is, that he had a very good friend in you.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am listening to "The Random and the Purpose" and was wondering whatever happened to Dax. I heard him in a mall here in Lacey, Washington several years ago. He was amazing! I bought the 2 CD's he had for sale on the spot. I figured I'd be hearing a lot more about him. His music was the type that just "grabbed" you regardless of your musical orientation.

So I did a search on the Internet and found this page. It saddens me in a way and to a depth I can't describe. It hurts.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story is so sad and loving. As a fellow pianist i feel a connection through yours and Dax's music. Reading this made me tear up. You did a wonderful job honoring Dax. Im praying for you and Dax.

-John Spaulding

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just on Youtube one night and I listen to the most beautiful music. Not knowing who I was listen to, and then found out Dax Johnson. Every time I listen to is music my heart soars. I wish I had known of him sooner. Wherever you are my dear friend rest in peace.LC

8:22 AM  
Anonymous razou said...

hey there,
at the moment im listening to dax johnsons the random and the purpose and since in never heard of him before i thought this would be some young genius s work u know like a wonderchild that yet didnt make it big so i was thinking bout droppin a comment on myspace tellin how great his work is,then i read your blog n its a very sad story.i mean i could tell by the songs names bout his mindstate and i would like to know more bout his life,because the music is just incredibly amazing.
well hope he rests in peace cause it seems like he troubled through life......

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Najat said...

I am a French fan, and I cannot truely translate through words my current state of mind. I have been listening to "echoes" all day long: Emotion has found its musical painter. An artist of the Soul, a writer of the Heart.
Thanks for such a gift

11:45 AM  
Blogger hibbitskristine said...

One day my 11 year old daughter sent me "Rain" on YT. I had never heard of this musician. I was instantly hooked. When I told her he had passed away a few years back, to my surprise she cried. How could someone with such beauty inside leave. Sometimes we don't realize the impact we have on people and children we've never met. Through his music he touched the soul of a very shy 11 year old girl. I had never seen her become emotional over the death of any musician before. What does this mean? Perhaps he reached from beyond the grave and stroked her face and whispered something only her soul could hear. For this, I thank him.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Camille Lyra said...

Mr. Nevue,
I found this video at YouTube by chance, but it didn't have his name, just its name.
When I heard it, I was so passionate for the music that I had to find out who was the blessed soul to write such amazing melody. And I found your blog.
I wanted to say many things, but, as a writer, I'm sure that words can't express the way I'm feeling right now. As words were only words
and couldn't go any further.
But, you see, your words came to me, here, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As well as, through your words, your beautiful words, I was given something awesome. Something I desperately want to keep alive in me forever, until the day I die. This is his example. His life. His soul, reflected in his music. - I believe that he was just as pleasant as his music is. No way could someone bad do it, because God is the one who give us the gift the play, and to write, and to do whatever we can do. - I can feel faith in his music. I just do it.
I thank God, He gave us someone so special and, in no time, so important to me. I'm so sorry I wasn't able to know him; it must have been wonderful those times you spent together.
Well, I know it has been more than five years, but I cried today as it had happened yesterday.
I'd love to hear anything more you have to say about him. Everything. The conversations you remember, what he has been through, anything.
If you can, here is my email: cespanha@gmail.com

Thank you, Dax, for the songs that are so precious to me since the first time I heard them. And thank you, Mr. Nevue, for turning the words in such a beautiful history.

Camille Lyra

9:07 AM  
Blogger GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Hi David,
I know you wrote this piece ages ago, when you first heard of Dax's death, but I just stumbled acrossed it today for the first time. I am Dax's aunt (one of many) and just wanted to say thanks for writing such a beautiful tribute to our Dax.

Fondly,
Glenda

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Al V. said...

I stumbled upon Dax's music today and was instantly captivated by it. I quickly went to I-tunes and downloaded all of his music. This man was truly gifted. His music speaks to the heart. I hope he continues to play piano in heaven. I hope to hear him playing at the gates when I get there someday...

2:15 PM  
Anonymous french fan said...

dax johnson....just amazing

his music is so perfect

gone too soon....

I miss you I'm thinking of you

from france....

10:24 AM  
Anonymous MiracleWitness said...

Dear Mr. Nevue. I first heard Dax's music just recently. It was Drylines from the Merciful Dwelling album, as a soundtrack to a video on skepticism. It caught me by ears instantly and I surfed the net until I found more. The rest of the album wasn't what I expected, not exactly in the same key I like, but I kept listening to it and it grew on me. Now I appreciate it all. It's beautiful. I regret to find soon afterwards, that Dax Johnson is not on the right side of lawn anymore. Thank you for letting me know who he was and what he was like. What a wonderful man, you were lucky to know him.

To express my gratitude, I think you'd also appreciate this piece of music, that reminds me of Dax's style.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB0siiZmqr0 (Solitary Bird from his first album has the same quality) I think I will also check out what you have. I usually listen to psychedelic electronic downtempo, but what I really seek in there is that special key of melancholy&mystery, I think it's D minor, or something like that. It's so rare to find a music that has it and holds to it steadily.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Man Dax, why did you have to go..

Thanks for the reading. That man was something special. I came across his music 3 years ago, and it was the best thing that happend to me. My friend saw a youtube clip where this song was played in the background. He said that he watched it over and over again just because he loved the music. He showed me, and I found out who he was, and started listen to more of his music. By that time I didn't know that he wasn't with us anymore, but when I found out, it broke my heart. I am, and I will always love Dax, it feels like I know him, even if I've never seen him.

Dear Dax, may this be a memory for you.

/Ben from Sweden

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really have much to say, just that Dax's ability was truly spectacular, and I would gladly give my life this very day to bring him back and let the whole world experience one of the true gifts the world has been given. He didn't deserve whatever happened to him. I regret that there isn't any printed music of his, but I think that's one thing that adds to his amazing ability. I mean, we would have to come up with a whole new musical symbol for "pluck the piano string with a guitar pick." I would be able to die happy if I could shake his hand this very day. I would love the chance to talk to you as well Mr. Venue, if you are ever looking for something to do I'd love to hear from you at acemd@verizon.net, just say it's for adam. Thank you for this, and being there for him whenever he was questioning himself.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mistake, Mr. Nevue =\
- Adam

8:02 AM  
Blogger Cipriano said...

Wow, I just read this blog and discovered Dax Johnson only today, through a random YouTube video that was using his song "Melt".
I'm currently listening to other songs I have found -- and it is just such truly magnificent music -- I am moved.
Thank you so much for this sort of a eulogy to such a gifted musician, I'm just completely intrigued now.
How in the world could he have died at such a young age? I'm not sure I even want to know, it's just so sad. Such a loss.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Memory of Dax

I once read a story, written along time ago by an old man, who was out for a walk one day by a river in Holland. By chance, he came upon a painter sitting by the river. Turns out the painter’s name was Vincent Van Gogh. The old man was awestruck by what he saw in the painting. Vincent invited the man to sit next to him. Together hey chatted and shared such emotional visions of color and light. Music too, creates visions and emotions which can be shared among those who understand and share the emotive power of music from within our souls.
Very much like the old man, I too, unexpectedly, came across an artist. His name was Dax Johnson. He was in an Ontario, California mall of all places. There he sat, playing the piano, drawing me closer to hear and feel his powerful soul and emotions through his music. I paused, I listened, and I became overwhelmed by his musical passion. He looked at me as he played and asked me to come closer and listen. He then asked me to sit next to him as he played “Rain”. I was completely overwhelmed with Dax’s “openess” to let me experience something so beautiful. I spent an hour and a half by his side while he played his songs. I became tearful with the emotions that he was stirring within me through his music. I felt such a deep sense of closeness to all of it. He asked me where I came from. I told him, Eugene, Oregon near Spencer’s Butte and then I shared with him the fact that I was leaving America for New Zealand forever the next day on a one way ticket. He spoke of the beauty he had heard of about New Zealand. He spoke of the beauty in the Washington and Oregon as he played his beautiful music. It was magic. When I realized I had to go, he put one hand on my shoulder, shook my hand and wished me well. He gave me two of the CD’s that he was selling. He signed them with a note to me.
I will always remember Dax. He was special for what he and I shared through the power of his music. Like Van Gogh, I would like to think that Dax left this world before his time and that people will come across his music and become immersed within the power of his music to “reach inside” so as to stay in touch with our inner emotional feelings. Dax will never be forgotten because he left a big part of his soul for all of us to enjoy through his inspirational musical legacy. Rodney, Auckland, New Zealand, 2012

3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is Katerina. I am from Greece, Europe. I found out about Dax Johnson just a year before by chance.. Just searching for good piano music in the internet.. I loved his music from the first moment. So, all of my friends did.. I am sad to know he was already "gone" when I discovered his music, just a year before.. I think that he will be always with us through his delightful piano music.. So sensitive and sincere.. Thanks for the tribute..

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After meeting Dax, and watching him play i quickly came to realize that this wasn't a student or just an artist that was coming into his own, he simply had mastered it in a way that only a Mozart type could. He played with ease while talking to people like the piano wasn't even there he carried on a full conversation the entire time he played hardly ever looking back to the piano. This guy was one of the rare oddity's that you run into very seldom in life, every 20 years maybe a Hendrix type will come along, and this guy was that, someone who could take the art beyond what others had done before. A Buddy Holly type that could fashion a change in the world. A very few artists ever get to this level, had he lived for a few more years he would have been a household name. I think the day i will remember most is seeing him play the piano on the cliff side in Spokane and seeing the beauty that came from inside him echo across the town it was truly amazing to watch him play, and a great pleasure to speak with him, i am deeply sadened that he is gone. I very much regret not going to his funeral, i should have gone.
But i am very thankful that Dennis kept pestering me to buy his cd and meet him, i am very glad i did.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Steve Hart said...

I know you wrote this a lifetime ago, but I just stumbled across it today.

I've been a fan of Dax for some time, although I only met him once, playing in Vancouver Mall.

When I learned of his death, about a year after he passed, it was the third musician that I had lost in a short period. I wound up staying up half the night writing. If i can find the results, I'll post them here.

Thanks for the your memories. They've revived mine.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Steve Hart said...

Dax (Pt 1)


I'm sitting here, stunned.

It was late and I was bored, tired yet not really sleepy. The kids are in bed, so it's a good time to don the headphones and crank the music. It's been a really stressful day and when I'm stressed I turn to Dax. Dax Johnson is an absolutely incredible pianist that my wife, Chell and I stumbled upon one day in our local shopping mall.

There, in the middle of the mall, his face to an ice cream joint and his back to Sears, was a man that looked straight out of a metal band. He was too tall for the old piano and his knees, crammed beneath the keyboard, looked awkward and painful. He had one foot on the piano's pedals and the second bent out to the side. He played with an odd style completely lost in the emotion of the music, his free hand occasionally playing with the air, seeming to pull even greater emotion from the room to his fingertips. The music was raw, but at the same time it completely transcended what we normally call music. It was as if emotion welled from his soul and somehow miraculously slid through his fingers and the piano directly into the audience without translation. As his body weaved from side to side and his long hair dragged across the keys, feelings erupted from his soul into the room. I suppose a mall isn't the perfect room for a pianist, but it didn't matter to Dax or to the people walking by. Everyone, and I mean everyone stopped to listen. CDs were flying out of a box into people's waiting hands. Everyone wanted a piece of Dax to take home. Between songs, he would pause and autograph a stack of newly purchased CDs, pausing to speak to each new fan, thanking them for listening. Chell and I spoke to him for a bit and his generosity and friendliness proved as powerful as his music.

Later, I bought other albums and downloaded more material from his website. When he expressed an interest in singing, I was a bit apprehensive, but once again, the emotions in his music held the day. His voice might not be perfect, but it didn't matter. Dax's new music made us laugh and made us cry. We felt with him and we felt through him.

So here, tonight, after a stressful day, I come to once again renew my association with Dax. I listen to "Fundamental Elements of Madness" and "Through the Storm". As I listen to "Child's Garden", my heart takes over as it always does. My eyes closed, I can see my children flitting about playing. I see them throw childhood tempers and I see them run to my arms. I hear myself calming them and I hear Dax calming the children in his life. Perhaps I hear the music calming Dax as it calms me.

As the song ends, I realize it's been some time since I've been to Dax's website. I'll check in and see what projects he's working on. As I type in daxjohnson.com, I wonder what I'll see.

JUST RELEASED! Recorded in 2004, The Beauty of Human Error is his first and only - all vocal CD! Dax talked about an all-vocal CD for years, and following his death the parts came in from various places. Dax had spent many hours in the studio years ago and had a lot of useable tracks. In the end, we had eleven songs.

Wait a minute!

following his death… Dax can't be dead. What? How? When? The website mentions a tribute concert, a memorial service, nothing else.

Google...
The Spokane Review
Remembering a creative and passionate musician
Dec 2, 2005
Christopher "Dax" Johnson, 30, died Nov. 23 at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

Almost a year. He's been gone almost a year. 30 years old and gone. Gone from this world, gone from my personal world.



...

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Steve Hart said...

Dax (Pt 2)






...



I suppose he was never really a part of my world, but his music certainly was and will be. Even though I didn't really know Dax at all, having shared but one conversation with him, I'm amazingly moved by his leaving us. I guess I always figured that someday, somewhere, I would see him at another show. I would tell him how much his music has affected me. I would shake his hand, introduce him to my friends, buy another disk and I would listen. I would listen and for a moment, the world would be a better place.







I'm still listening to my collection of Dax's work and it's already changed. It's as incredibly powerful and emotional as it ever was, but now it's somehow become… incomplete. He was 23 when he made this album. 23! At 23, he made music that can still make this jaded old man cry. (I'm doing it now) At 30, he was gone. What works of genius were still to come? What pieces of art were trapped in his mind until it was too late? I guess we'll never know. I guess I'll never know. I'll buy this last disk, but it will be the last one, Dax's last disk.

In a way, I almost feel guilty for not knowing about Dax's death for so long. Reading through his myspace page, I find memories of the people the knew him personally. Their grief must have been more tangible than what I feel. They've lost so much more. Still, I must be part of a large group that knew Dax primarily through his music, all of us finding out in our own way, a few today, a few next week, all of us grieving the loss of a part of our own lives. I guess the lesson is to treasure the times we have, not only with those we love, but with the others that influence us, the poets, the artists, the teachers and yes, the musicians. See the live shows, support their efforts financially, tell your friends, buy stuff. Most importantly, tell the artists what effect their work has on you. Thank them.






I've changed music now, to Michael Hutchence's unfinished "Slide Away". As Michael, with days to live when he recorded it, sings "I just want to slide away and come alive again", I'm wondering if Dax knew the song. Bono's lines, written and recorded after Michael's death, "I would catch you, catch you as you fall" echo all of our thoughts about Dax. Dax effected many, many people in his life through his music. How many of us would have caught him, had we known he was falling? Would we have noticed? Would he have accepted our hand?

I guess we just never expect the world to change. We adapt to changes in our own lives, big and small, yet somehow we expect the world outside our view to remain static. We expect little kids to stay small, we expect no one will build a store on the vacant lot where our club fort is and we expect the Daxes of the world to go on making ever better music. Yet, sight unseen, the kids always grow up and when we go home, some developer has picked up that lot and built something ugly on it.

And sometimes the last song is played.





And now I have to tell Chell.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Wonderful obituary David, it made me cry. This a terrible news for me and many others.
I love his music, sadly I have never met him or had the chance to visit any performance.
His works have helped me through many of my Writer's Blocks and inspired me to make up all the stories I wrote.
He will stay in our hearts forever.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Gabriel Di Stasio said...

Dax is surreal!

http://deliriosemsilencio.blogspot.com.br/2012/06/especial-dax-jonhson.html#more

11:14 AM  
Blogger Dphilipson said...

I remember him. I was 15 and saw him play at Ontario Mills Mall in CA. I hated classical music my entire childhood. When I heard Dax play that music I was hooked. I just learned through the website about this horrible tragedy. He even signed the CD I bought. :'(

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first heard Dax playing in Arizona many years ago and was so emotionally struck by his music. I listen to it today and I am still filled with emotion. He lives on through his music and his family. I also had the pleasure of meeting his brother Aaron {Maka} who was Dax's promoter at the the time. John, Meridian, Idaho

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first heard Dax playing in Arizona many years ago and was so emotionally struck by his music. I listen to it today and I am still filled with emotion. He lives on through his music and his family. I also had the pleasure of meeting his brother Aaron {Maka} who was Dax's promoter at the the time. John, Meridian, Idaho

12:45 PM  
Blogger Nilton Graca said...

The first time I have ever heard of Dax was actually today, but funny enough I heard of him because I was hooked for the first time when I heard the "child's garden", my God what a wonderful pianist, sad to hear that he is gone, many people would love to have a friend like you to honor someone in such a passionate way as you did, you must have been such good friends it is sad to hear it as I said, I know this is more than 7 years since the tragedy I think, but God bless you and may God keep him too.

Nilton

From London

9:28 AM  
Anonymous hp samsung said...

nice blog :)

3:44 AM  
Blogger Seventeen said...

That is a very beautiful recollection. It is so often untold of the inner battles people face. Wonderfully helpful

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David, this is such sad news. I don't know you and also never knew about Dax until I searched for more information on his music today. [I am doing Bellydancing as a hobby and our latest choreography set is RULER OF ONE, a music piece by Dax.] On searching where I can get this from , I came upon your article. may he rest in peace..Nazlie

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Dax is my worship leader in Heaven one day.
A thousand times I've thought, "I wish I were more like him."
If there is a loving God, Dax had to be a "Sent One."

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi , I met dax in phoenix, at a mall he was playing his music from his CD merciful Dwelling. I loved it so much I bought his CD, and he signed it for me.

9:31 PM  

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