By Andi Gladwin - Monday, March 11, 2019
We lost a legend this week, and it seems that the whole magic world is in mourning. You just have to open up any social media to see how Johnny Thompson impacted not just our magic, but our lives too. He brought with him lessons from previous generations, he understood magic better than almost anyone, and he was only all too happy to help show us the right direction.
Josh and I worked with Johnny on a number of projects, starting when we were both teenagers performing on Lance Burton's television special, right the way through to our more recent Fool Us performances. To have him watching over your shoulder—or through a television monitor—was a special treat because he understood how magic should look on television, and everyone around him knew that he could help make you shine.
But his television work was a small facet of a man with an inspiring skillset. He was one of magic's last great generalists and was comfortable, and qualified, talking about any genre of magic. To me, the greatest moments spent with Johnny were spent discussing classic magic effects, where he would share expertise not just from his own long performing career, but from the lessons that he learned from masters such as Charlie Miller and Dai Vernon. There were no better shoulders to stand on.
Typically it's only when it's too late that we get to see the impact that someone had on magic, but in the case of Johnny, we got to see a peek into that at The Session. It was with great pride that we could bring Johnny over to London, where he was the guest of honour in 2018. The room was electric with excitement as he shared stories and effects during an interview with Mike Close and Paul Vigil. I'd like to think that Johnny understood the impact he had on the 500 magicians in that room. He could not have been more giving of his time, and was always the last man standing, at 82 years old, sessioning late into the night when most of us had already been in bed for hours. I'll never forget the passion that Johnny shared with us that weekend — and I'll always be thankful for the help, and encouragement he shared with me personally. I'd like to think that all of our magic is better because Johnny was with us.
Photos from The Session 2018, courtesy of Sean East.
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