Jim Johnston (composer)

James Alan Johnston (born June 19, 1952[1]) is an American music composer and musician best known for his time in WWE.

Jim Johnston
Birth nameJames Alan Johnston
Born (1952-06-19) June 19, 1952
Pocahontas, Arkansas, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, composer
InstrumentsVocals, recording, guitar, drums, piano
Years active1985–present
LabelsWWE Music Group


Johnson's role in WWE was providing the soundtrack for WWE programming, in addition to providing musical content for WWE's large output of video games, website content and entrance themes for WWE Superstars and Divas. Johnston achieved fame for producing many of the memorable entrance theme songs for the WWE Superstars, including the likes of The Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mr. McMahon amongst hundreds of other superstars, many of which have been released on commercial albums and through iTunes. In 2014, CFO$ took over responsibility for creating entrance themes and musical content for WWE's television output. This was done at the request of WWE Music Group GM Neil Lawi, who wanted to utilize the existing working relationship he had with John Alicastro and Michael Lauri. This meant a forced reduction in Johnston's input into creating new superstar entrance themes after that date.

Beyond Superstars entrance themes, Johnston composed music for the majority of WWE's pay-per-views and television productions, including show themes, music videos, vignettes, commercials, and tributes. He likens his work to that of scoring a live action movie, "A standard scenario is we get a call from our executive producer: 'We've got a new guy coming', or 'He's breaking out of a tag team and he needs music'. It's like scoring for a movie: is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he light and svelte and quick-moving, which dictates a fast tempo, or is he a big plodding kind of a guy, in which case you need a big, heavy, the-wrath-of-God-is-coming-upon-us sound?".[2]

Johnston has also scored several film projects for WWE's film division WWE Studios, these include The Chaperone, That's What I Am, and The Reunion. He also provided music for other WWE-affiliated products including the World Bodybuilding Federation and the XFL. He is known for writing, composing and producing all his compositions alone, in addition to playing all instruments. He occasionally recruited outside vocalists or additional musicians to contribute when the piece required, and often preferred to bring in unsigned bands and new artists to provide vocals. In 2008, Johnston publicly expressed his frustration to Billboard at the inability of WWE to secure better promotional deals with artists due to a lack of understanding of the WWE product. He said, "One of my frustrations is getting the word out about just how much music is used in our product. The labels will stumble over themselves to get on MTV, but no one's watching MTV". Conversely, WWE and Johnston have been responsible for helping to fuel a surge in sales for associated acts such as Fuel, Shinedown and Motörhead through their use in WWE productions.[3]

On November 30, 2017 WWE announced that Johnston was released from his contract, ending his 32-year run with the company.[4][5]

Johnston made his first ever non-WWE appearance at the Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks produced event All In at All In's Starrcast fan convention.


Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking United States album sales in 1991, Johnston has released seventeen WWE albums that have sold a combined 5.9 million units. Most have appeared in the Billboard 200, with many achieving gold and even platinum certification status. The top seller overall is WWF The Music, Vol. 3, released in 1998, and which went platinum. The album sold a total 1.2 million units in the United States alone.[6]


Johnston appeared on the videotape Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2 to introduce the video for Girls in Cars. He orchestrated the live band at the Slammy Awards ceremonies, and traveled across the United States in 1995 as part of the "Raw Band". He also appeared on camera at WrestleMania XIV and SummerSlam (in March 1998 and August 1998, respectly) playing the D-Generation X theme with the Chris Warren Band. Johnston also had a brief clip in the film Beyond the Mat by discussing his reasoning behind Vader's theme music. Johnston also appeared on the bonus DVD for WWE Originals, the 2004 album by the same name. The DVD featured a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on Johnston, offering insights into the composing, producing and directing of the album. There are also some humorous interactions of Johnston with Jonathan Coachman and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Johnston also appeared on The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior discussing the Ultimate Warrior's theme song, and how it was able to be truly representative of the character. Johnston also appeared on the WrestleMania XV DVD extras, commenting on WWE's music, and how music is crucial in WWE. He also appeared on an episode of Total Divas (season 4, episode 8) collaborating with Nikki Bella.

WWE Signature Sounds

In March 2014, WWE released a 60-minute DVD documentary about Johnston entitled Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE, following him as he crafts an entrance theme, and revisits some of the stories of his most famous compositions.[7]


Johnston composed the music for Legendary, Knucklehead, and The Chaperone, all of which were produced by WWE Studios. He also wrote the score for No Holds Barred and contributed the track, "Ahmed Johnson (aka Pearl River Rip)" to the documentary, Beyond the Mat.[8]



Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2002WonBMI Cable AwardRaw[9]
2003WonBMI Cable AwardRaw[9]
2004WonBMI Cable AwardRaw[9]
2008WonBMI Cable AwardRaw[9]
2013WonBMI Cable AwardRaw[9]


  1. "Conrad Thompson, Brian Pillman Jr, and Part 2 of in depth Jim Johnston interview! - March 6, 2019 - 42:30 mark". audioboom.com. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  2. Sound for the WWE-Creating the Sound for the WWE Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Mixonline.com (April 1, 2004). Retrieved on August 21, 2011.
  3. Billboard – Google Books. Books.google.com (June 21, 2008). Retrieved on August 21, 2011.
  4. Docking, Neil (December 2, 2017). "Legendary entrance music composer Jim Johnston released by WWE". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  5. "WWE Release Jim Johnston". whatculture.com. December 1, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  6. High, Kamau. (June 15, 2008) Music a key element in WWE brand profile. Reuters. Retrieved on August 21, 2011.
  7. "Sites-wwe-us-Site". shop.wwe.com. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  8. "Beyond the Mat (1999)". Retrieved April 4, 2018 via www.imdb.com.
  9. "Jim Johnston". IMDb. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
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