Trey Johnson, a long-time fixture on the Dallas music scene, died Jan. 31. He was 53 years old.
Johnson, an accomplished solo artist who also earned acclaim as a member of Sorta (with the late Carter Albrecht), was one of the founders of the taste-making local label State Fair Records, which confirmed his death Tuesday. Johnson is survived by his wife Jen, his son and his daughter, as well as his mother and siblings. The cause of death was not immediately known, but CultureMap Dallas reported Johnson had “experienced heart problems within the past year.”
“The State Fair Records family is devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Trey Johnson, co-founder and co-leader of our record label, both physically and spiritually,” the label’s statement read, in part.
“We grieve along with his family and will do everything in our power to pick up the shattered pieces of this tragedy, and form them into something worthy of [Trey’s given name] Lewis Johnson III,” said Paul Williams, State Fair Records co-owner, in a statement.
Although he’d stepped back from music in recent years, Johnson was beginning to dip his toe back into performance, having released an EP, Home Again, Home Again, in early 2021.
The Dallas music scene was rocked by the news of Johnson’s sudden passing. The emotional outpouring from those within the tight-knit community was immediate, intense and suffused with the same sort of affection for which Johnson, however well you knew him, was renowned for.
“In all the years I knew Trey Johnson, I never heard him say an unkind word about a single person,” singer-songwriter Salim Nourallah wrote on Facebook. “He was a light, an immeasurable force of positivity. I can’t believe he’s gone. It doesn’t seem possible.”
“It seems so strange to say goodbye to a friend who I’ve sung, recorded and jammed with for so long,” singer-songwriter Becky Middleton wrote on Facebook. “Working in the studio with someone of his caliber and musicianship is always an honor. But to call him friend was the gift. He was the kindest person and leaves a beautiful legacy with his family and the Dallas music scene.”
“Trey Johnson changed my life, gave me the chance to pursue my dream and believed in me,” wrote Vandoliers front man Joshua Fleming on Facebook. “I wasn’t the only person or only band. He put in so much work, so much faith in to all of us. I’m going to miss my friend so much. We all owe you so much.”