Johannes Luley

Johannes Luley

Musicians | Instrument: Guitar | Location: Los Angeles

Luley has a fluid ability to shift between styles and influences without missing a beat. His restraint exudes warmth at every turn.

—Tyran Grillo, ECM Reviews

Updated: October 5, 2023

Born: April 27

Early Years

Born in Hamburg, raised in Darmstadt, Germany, Johannes grew up in a very supportive and music-loving household. At age 13 he became the youngest student at “Jazz Schule Darmstadt”, where he studied guitar under Eddy Marron (Dzyan, Missus Beastly, Giger-Lenz-Marron). His other teachers include Berklee School of Music alum Rolf Bussalb and Torsten de Winkel.

The Studio

Still in his late teens and early 20’s, Johannes began a career as a studio guitarist and landed a few high profile engagements with artists. Among them Camouflage (Love is a Shield), Ina Deter (Ich will die Hälfte der Welt) and Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. During this time, he had the great opportunity to work with top producers Edo Zanki, Tommy Schmidt-Zijnen and Ken Taylor. Those guys were calling all the shots in the studio, which led Johannes to embark on an engineering and producing career that has lasted to this day.


In the '90s, he moved to San Francisco, California and joined Elton John protégé Ryan Downe and his band “The Hypocrites” as a touring guitarist, opening for The Who and Iggy Pop. Around that time, Johannes had started a recording studio and began producing albums for other artists. His own group Hopscotch released their first full-length album, “Cinema” in 2003. 2006 brought a move to Los Angeles, where he released a critically acclaimed progressive rock album titled Moth Vellum, with his San Francisco band of the same name.

Perfect Beings

Johannes’ next band project was formed in 2013. The collaboration with singer and songwriter Ryan Hurtgen would last for three albums, culminating in a major label record deal with Sony Music and the release of the groundbreaking album Vier in 2019. Since 2012, Johannes has also released his solo work in the form Tales from Sheepfather’s Grove (2013), Qitara (2017) and now Follow Your Heart, the latter inspired by artists featured in the vast ECM Records catalog. All of these albums where produced by Johannes and all, with the exception of Perfect Beings “Vier” (InsideOut – Sony Music) were released on his “My Sonic Temple” label. 

Follow Your Heart

When his recording studio had to close down due to the pandemic, Johannes experienced a business crisis, as well as a creative one. For the first time in his career, he felt no desire to play, record or perform music in any shape or form. For almost half a year, he didn’t touch a guitar or any of his music gear, which sort of had the effect of a palate cleansing.

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