If you want to start a music career, don’t do it the way Jack Johnson did.
Now 39, the superstar singer was just 17 years old when he was out riding the Hawaiian surf and dove off his board to escape a massive wave – but while he managed to get out with his life, he got thrown face-first into a coral reef and broke his skull and his nose, lost his front teeth and ended up with a whopping 150 stitches.
It was while he was recovering from that injury that he famously worked on his guitar and singing – a move that would soon have him riding high atop charts around the globe, and land him millions in album sales for his fireside-warm, happily mellow acoustic sound.
Currently on tour with his 2013 album From Here To Now To You, Mr. Johnson is performing favourite songs from his 2001 debut Brushfire Fairytales right through to his most recent tracks, which he penned in part from the perspective of his two young sons and daughter.
“I’ve got three wonderful little kids, and it’s fun to see the world through their eyes. It’s inspiring and just exciting,” Mr. Johnson, who also still writes love songs for his wife of more than 20 years, told an interviewer.
“She likes them a lot when they’re just hers. But we’ve got kids and we want to make the world a better place, so I think she always feels good when I put these love songs out into the world as well.”
It’s not just music that matters to Mr. Johnson. When he hits the road, the long-time environmentalist and outspoken sustainability advocate not only greens his tours using biodiesel vehicles, low-energy lighting and food from local farms, he invites local non-profits to set up tables at his shows, and donates all of the profits from his tours to local and national charities, from environmental initiatives to music education.
In the past five years alone, that has meant tens of millions of dollars for all kinds of non-profit organizations.
“I didn’t even know I’d earned that much,” he jokingly told an interviewer with the Telegraph after his accountant gave him the latest figures. “I could have had way better cars and everything.”
Jack Johnson is playing a sold-out show in Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, B.C., Thursday night (ticketmaster.ca).