Dallas musician and co-founder of State Fair Records Trey Johnson died on Jan. 31 at age 53.

The Lake Highlands neighbor was one part of the rock band Sorta, which he founded in 2000. The band disbanded soon after band keyboardist Carter Albrecht’s death in 2007. After things settled down in the band, Johnson taught music at Zounds Sounds.

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Johnson had a heavy presence on the Dallas Americana rock music scene, helping several artists get their name on the scene with State Fair Records, including The Vandoliers and Ottoman Turks.

In 2019, he and his wife, Jennifer, opened Y.A.M Studio together in Lake Highlands. He provided the music for the studio, she provides the yoga, and they both shared a great appreciation for art.

Photo credit: Danny Fulgencio

In a 2009 profile, Johnson shared  he found entertainment through writing songs and making records.

“That is kind of how I entertain myself. The balance and structure I have as I’ve gotten older is a wonderful thing, and I get to make more music now than I ever have,” he said.

He even served as a mentor to country artist Joshua Ray Walker, who shared a statement on Facebook.

As life goes, extreme highs come with extreme lows, but not always this close together. Yesterday we lost Trey Johnson. He was a mentor, a friend, a brother, a beacon of positivity, and more recently a father figure to me after my dad passed. I always jokingly referred to him as my “music dad”. He was so many things to so many people. No one was more proud or excited about this Tonight Show appearance. I would have never gotten close to having this opportunity without him.

State Fair Records also shared their condolences in a joint statement from co-founders Paul Williams and W. Scott Davis.

“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 Lewis Johnson III,” Williams shared.

“He was the sails, the anchor and the wind,” Davis shared.

“Trey Johnson changed my life, gave me the chance to pursue my dream and believed in me,” The Vandoliers singer and guitarist Joshua Fleming wrote in a post. “I wasn’t the only person or only band. He put in so much work, so much faith in to all of us.”

Johnson is survived by his two children, Dylan and Will, and his wife, Jennifer.