In 2007, doctors informed Johnson that he needed surgery.
"Imagine my surprise when they said you need at least a quadruple bypass," he said.
Jokingly, he suggested they could do the surgery on his birthday, about a week away, then decided maybe he should have the birthday first and then have the surgery.
"It was the worst birthday I ever had," Johnson said.
Then three years ago, he got an email from someone claiming to be his daughter.
Johnson said, "She sent like a power point presentation, with all these pictures of her when she was in third grade, fourth grade and sixth grade.
"It knocked me on my tail."
He meant that literally.
"Your body doesn't know the difference between good stress and bad stress," he explained.
This was good stress, but it compromised his immune system. Suddenly, he was battling a case of shingles. Finding out she was alive and wanted to meet him also brought up a range of emotions, including buried guilt, grief and a couple of decades worth of worry.
"You can't have all of those feelings at once without going a little nuts," he said. "So... I did."
It took a little time and a little help to get himself right again, but after a couple of months, he was finally well enough to meet his daughter.
"And she's beautiful," he said. "She's gorgeous -- and a singer, too. Go 'fig."
They got to know each other and when Carmichael moved to Minneapolis a while back, Johnson took it as another reason for him to move back there as well.
Red House Records, Johnson's record label, is located in St. Paul --about 15 minutes away.
"And I had lived there for, like, 20 years," he said.
Johnson said he spent part of the close of 2012 with his daughter.
"We had dinner Christmas," he said.
It was a very good year.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.