Johnny Lee’s breakthrough hit, “Lookin’ for Love,” helped usher in an historic era in country music, and four
decades later Johnny Lee remains one of the genre’s most beloved entertainers. Possessing enviable comedic
skills and a voice as warm and strong as sunshine on the Texas asphalt, Lee has enjoyed a successful career,
but he isn’t near ready to call it quits yet. The proof is in his new album Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.
The 14-song collection looks poised to be a landmark album in an already impressive career, spotlighting not
only Lee’s signature vocals but also his talent as a songwriter. The Texas native wrote or co-wrote the bulk of
the project. “I’m more proud of this album because I wrote most of the songs on there,” Lee says. “I’m proud
of the rest of my stuff too, but I’m really proud of this one because I’m the creator.”
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright is the quintessential Johnny Lee album with a diverse collection of songs
ranging from the positive message of the title track and first single to the wistful romance of the tender love
song “Annie” to the up tempo romp “Sawin’ on the Fiddle,” which he wrote to pitch to the late Charlie
Daniels. Among the originals, the Texas Country Music Hall of Famer also puts his indelible stamp on such
classics as the Leon Russell penned “A Song for You” and “Statue of a Fool,” an iconic hit made famous by
the late Jack Greene. Lee recruited his longtime pal Willie Nelson to play his legendary guitar Trigger on “Did
You Enjoy Hurting Me?” The album closes with the bonus track “Father’s Daughter.” Written and sung by his
daughter, Cherish Lee, the song is a poignant tribute to Lee as a father and an artist.
A native of Texas City, Texas, Lee grew up on a dairy farm and formed his first band in high school.
Following graduation he enlisted in the Navy and served on the USS Chicago, a guided missile cruiser. “When
I first got out of the military, I was going to be a cop out in California,” Lee recalls. “I took all of the tests and
passed everything, but then I got in an old Chevy and drove back to Galveston, Texas.”
Lee began performing on the Lone Star state’s competitive nightclub circuit, and began working with Mickey
Gilley in 1968. He performed with Gilley on tour and at Gilley’s legendary club in Pasadena, Texas. The 1980
film Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger, was set predominantly at Gilley’s and Lee
performed three songs on the multi-platinum selling soundtrack—“Rode Hard & Put Up Wet,” “Cherokee
Fiddle” and “Lookin’ for Love,” which topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for three weeks and
became a crossover hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard all genre Hot 100.
Urban Cowboy became a phenomenon and country music’s popularity hit an all-time high. “I figured it was
going to catapult my career or set me back 10 years,” Lee says with a grin. “I had no idea it was going to be as
big as it was. All I know is that it’s got staying power. It’s still played all the time.”
Lee continued to score such hits as “One in a Million,” “Bet Your Heart on Me,” “You Could Have Heard a
Heartbreak,” “Be There For Me Baby,” “Sounds Like Love,” “Cherokee Fiddle,” “Pickin’ Up Strangers” and
others. Over the years, Lee’s discography has grown to include two dozen albums. Everything’s Gonna Be
Alright is Lee’s first album release since 2016’s You Ain’t Never Been to Texas.
Lee now makes his home in Branson, MO, but traveled to Nashville to co-produce his new album with
Buddy Hyatt. “The last few years have had some major ups and downs in not only my life but in the whole
world,” Lee acknowledges. “Music brings us together and gives us peace of mind like nothing else.
Throughout my entire career, I have worked hard to record the best music possible and while creating this
album, that was the entire goal. This is a hard world we are living in, but I want everyone to know that
‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.’”
In addition to the encouraging message of the title track, Lee also shares a recitation of the Pledge of
Allegiance. “I was just inspired to do it. I said give me a guitar and play ‘America, The Beautiful,’ and let’s do
this," he says of the stirring patriotic moment.
Among the album’s many highlights is the fiddle-laced “Take Me Back to Texas.” Though Lee didn’t write
the moving ballad, it sounds as though he could have. “When I first heard it, I heard Lee Ann Womack sing it
on some television show she did and I said, ‘Oh my God!’ That song made me cry and I wanted to do it,” Lee
shares. “So I found it and told Buddy I wanted to do it exactly like Lee Ann did it.”
“I Know Me” is a song Kelly Lang wrote specifically for Lee after a conversation they had about an old love.
“Kelly and I went to dinner on a cruise one night and we had a deep conversation about it. I didn’t know she
went right to her room and wrote that song from our conversation. I don’t know what the hell I told her. We
were talking about Charlene. Maybe it’s about her,” Lee says of his ex-wife, actress Charlene Tilton.
Lee recorded “There Never Was a Doubt in My Mind” as a promise to his co-writer Alex Harvey. “He’s
passed away now, but before he died I told him I was going to put this on my record. He never got to hear it,
but he’s hearing it in heaven now,” Lee says. “I always used to say that when I made a long putt or something.
If someone said, ‘Do you think you can make it?’ I’d say, ‘Never was a doubt in my mind man!’ So I started
writing that song and had it mostly written except the chorus. Alex came and picked me up one day and I said,
‘Let’s finish writing this song’ and we went over to his house and finished it that day.”
Having Nelson play guitar on “Did You Enjoy Hurting Me” was a dream come true for Lee. “I wrote that
song for Willie Nelson,” he says. “At the time I was singing at Gilley’s. I wrote that song a long, long time
ago and didn’t know how to get it to him. I just remembered it and I always heard Willie playing guitar on it.
So I called him up and asked him if he’d play on the song I wrote for him. He said, ‘Send it to the studio,’ so I
did and he recorded it. When he said, ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Man, if I die now, I’ll be a happy man.’”
Lee’s new album also includes “Annie,” an earnest love song he first recorded on his Lookin’ for Love
album. Lee wrote the song about a girl he met after he and Gilley had played a show at the legendary Palomino
Club in North Hollywood. “I took her back to hotel and we sat there in the hallway talking. It turned out she
was a songwriter and singer,” he recalls. “I tried to get her to go back to Nashville with me. I was going to take
her to the studio with me. She didn’t go, but I promised her I’d write her a song. So I started writing the song
that night and finished it the next day.”
As fate would have it, Annie resurfaced in Lee’s life many years later. “I was working on an album with
Curb Records and the guys brought in a pretty girl to sing with me and low and behold it was Annie,” he says.
Though it was nice to reconnect, the two never forged a relationship and didn’t work together any further.
On his current album, Lee invited a longtime friend to sing with him on “A Song for You,” turning the
classic ballad into a duet. “I sang with Toni Jolene. She and I used to sing together at Gilley’s,” he says. “She’s
a minister now and I called her up and said, ‘I want to do this song with you.’ It was one take and done. I love
that song. She and I did i