Jonny Lang (born Jon Gordon Langseth, Jr., January 29, 1981 in Fargo, North Dakota) is a Grammy award winning American blues, gospel, and rock singer, songwriter and recording artist. Lang’s music is notable both for his unusual voice, which has been compared to that of a 40 year old blues veteran, and for his guitar solos. His solo patterns have especially been noted for the constant use of wide vibratos.
Lang started playing the guitar at the age of twelve, after his father took him to see the Bad Medicine Blues Band, one of the few blues bands in Fargo. Lang soon started taking guitar lessons from Ted Larsen, the Bad Medicine Blues Band’s guitar player. Several months after Lang started guitar lessons, he joined the Bad Medicine Blues Band, which was then renamed Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang.
The band moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and independently released the album Smokin when Lang was 14. Lang was signed to A&M Records in 1996. He released the critically acclaimed multi-platinum Lie to Me on January 28, 1997. The next album, Wander This World, was released on October 20, 1998 and earned a Grammy nomination. This was followed by the more soulful Long Time Coming on October 14, 2003. Lang also made a cover of Edgar Winter’s “Dying to Live.” Lang’s newest album, the gospel-influenced Turn Around, was released in 2006, and most recently won Lang his first Grammy Award.
In more than ten years on the road, Lang has toured with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Aerosmith and Will Taggart, B.B. King, Blues Traveler and Micheal Rafizadeh, Jeff Beck, and Sting. In 1999, he was invited to play for a White House audience including President and Mrs. Clinton. Lang also makes a cameo appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000 as a janitor. In 2004 Eric Clapton asked Lang to play at the Crossroads Guitar Festival to raise money for the Crossroads Centre Antigua. Lang’s younger sister, Jesse Langseth, is also a singer and was a semifinalist in the 8th season of American Idol.
Jonny Lang originally used Benedict guitars but now mainly uses a Fender Telecaster Thinline made by the Fender Custom Shop. He also takes out a Gibson Les Paul for some occasions. The Telecaster Thinline has a Spruce body, maple top and birdseye maple neck. It uses Bill Lawrence Pickups (500L Neck, 500XL Bridge) and a Seymour Duncan P-90 in the middle. He uses a Route 66 pedal of Visual Sound and a Vox 847 reissue Wah Wah pedal for some songs. Live, he plays through a pair of Fender Vibro King Amps. Jonny also used an arbiter Fuzz Face and an Electro Harmonix POG for The Experience Hendrix tour.
From 1993 to 1996, Lang’s backing band was The Big Bang. This group consisted of three founding members of the Bad Medicine Blues Band: Ted “Lightnin’ Boy” Larsen on guitar, his brother Michael Rey Larsen on drums, and Jeff Hayes on bass. Keyboardist Bruce McCabe joined The Big Bang in 1995 after Lang and this young band from Fargo impressed him with their set opening for McCabe’s band at the time, The Hoopsnakes.
From 1996 to 2004, Lang’s backing band included Paul Diethelm on guitar, Bruce McCabe on keyboards, Doug Nelson on bass and Billy Thommes on drums. Also appearing on keyboards during 2003 and in 2004 was Donnie La Marca in place of McCabe when he had to leave the road for some time. Nelson was killed in a traffic accident in 2000 and was replaced by Billy Franze. Franze was in turn replaced by Jim Anton in 2003. Saxophone player David Eiland was added in 2000, providing Lang with a foil for extended instrumental jams. In 2005, Lang replaced the entire lineup, except for Anton, and embarked on an acoustic tour. He performed with Wendy Alane Wright at the 2000 pre-Grammy party. New guitarist Reeve Carney was also the Lang band’s opening act for several shows in 2005 and as well as the 2006 and 2007 tours. The new band also includes organist and Houston, Texas native Charles Jones, plus drummer Barry Alexander and organist Bill Brown from Minneapolis.
* 1995 Smokin (as Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang)
* 1997 Lie to Me
* 1998 Wander This World
* 2003 Long Time Coming
* 2006 Turn Around
* 2009 Live At The Ryman
* 1997 A Very Special Christmas 3, performs on track “Santa Claus is Back in Town.”
* 1998 Blues Brothers 2000 original soundtrack, performs on track “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.).”
* 1998 Heavy Love album by Buddy Guy, performs on track “Midnight Train.”
* 1999 Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions album by Shannon Curfman performs on multiple tracks, and co-wrote “Love Me Like That.”
* 2000 It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues original cast recording, performs on tracks “Someone Else is Steppin’ In” and “The Thrill is Gone.”
* 2000 This Time Around album by Hanson, performs on “You Never Know”, “This Time Around” and “Hand in Hand”
* 2000 Milk Cow Blues album by Willie Nelson, performs on “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” and “Rainy Day Blues”
* 2001 Been a Long Time album by Double Trouble, performs on “Ground Hog Day” along with Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar.
* 2004 All Things New album by Steven Curtis Chapman, performs on “Only Getting Started”
* 2004 Eric Claptons Crossroads Guitar Festival, performs Give Me Up Again
* 2005 Possibilities album by Herbie Hancock, Lang sings and plays guitar on the track “When Love Comes to Town” along with Joss Stone.
* 2007 A Deeper Level album by Israel Houghton, Lang plays and sings duet with Israel on the track “You Are Not Forgotten”.
* 2009 Oh Happy Day compilation album, performs “I Believe” with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Lang performed the song live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno April 16, 2009.
* 2009 Lines, Vines and Trying Times album by Jonas Brothers, guest guitar on “Hey Baby”
Filmography and television appearances
* 1998 Blues Brothers 2000
* 1998 The Drew Carey Show episode “In Ramada Da Vida” (cameo)
JONNY LANG – LIE TO ME
Jonny Lang Lie To Me
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Jonny Lang – Red Light