Fine Art Rock Star Guitar Books

Lisa S. Johnson

Armed with a macro lens, laser-focused eye for detail and a unique, singular vision, Lisa S. Johnson’s ‘guitar art’ has become imbedded in pop culture’s six-string consciousness since the release of her critically acclaimed deluxe leather bound coffee table debut, 108 Rock Star Guitars, on October 8, 2013 and its subsequent softcover edition published by the venerable Hal Leonard Corporation on 11/11/14. Lisa then teamed up with Princeton Architectural Press / Chronicle Books, for the highly-anticipated sequel: Immortal Axes, That debuted in September 2021. Her tireless pursuit to photograph the most venerable weapons of riff destruction and melodic incantation continues to take her all over the world. When Lisa points her Nikon at a guitar, she peers into the soul of the instrument to identify the ineffable connection it bears to the man or woman that wields it. 

The 17-year journey that birthed 108 Rock Star Guitars has been well documented but deserves a concise recap. It all began when Lisa photographed the legendary Les Paul’s ancient Gibson during one of his famed sets at the Iridium Room in New York City. The storied pioneer of the solid body guitar was taken with Lisa’s vision, passion and commitment to craft so much so that he agreed to pen the foreword to her literary debut. He completed the heartfelt draft a few months before passing away in 2009 at age 94. Ignited by the esteemed endorsement, she set out to connect with musicians and collect the images of their enchanted equipment. 108 Rock Star Guitars, featured stunning captures from the pantheon of rock that included guitars owned and played by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Jeff Beck, Rick Nielsen, Steve Lukather, Slash, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Tom Morello, Ace Frehley, Peter Frampton, Robby Krieger, Lou Reed, Mick Ronson, Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh, Geddy Lee and many more. 

The vault of illuminating instrumental images assembled Immortal Axes, features the sacred gear owned and played by Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith; John Lennon, Joan Jett, Billy Sheehan, Dave Grohl, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Geezer Butler, Joe Perry, BB King, Albert Lee, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Steve Howe, Vernon Reid, Buck Dharma, Randy Rhoads, Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Billy Duffy, George Thorogood, Steve Hackett, Kirk Hammett, Dave Davies, Buddy Guy, Pete Townshend and Johnny Cash. Foreword by Peter Frampton and an Afterword by Suzi Quatro.

More than two hundred one-of-a-kind axes shot over the course of two decades, a most extraordinary effort from a most extraordinary woman. The supersonic six-string sojourn of Lisa S. Johnson riffs on.

Lisa’s stunning photos and her body of work have led to collaborations with the Malibu Guitar Festival, Museum of Making Music, Museum of Design Atlanta, Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Frist Art Museum Nashville. She collaborated with former Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine and author Brad Tolinski for Immortal Axes.  Johnson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her partner and two boxer dogs.

Lonn M. Friend