Richmond Johnson began playing piano at age four. When he was eight, he heard a clarinet player in a band and, as a result, a new clarinet player was born. His parents encouraged him to practice, but it was Johnson who made the decision to become a professional musician.
Johnson grew up in Phoenix and was a member of the Symphonettes, The Phoenix Youth Orchestra and the West High School Orchestra. He attended Arizona State University, where he studied with clarinet instructor and The Phoenix Symphony's principal clarinetist, Jack Ratterree. After receiving his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1966, Johnson joined The Phoenix Symphony. He had been with the Orchestra only two years when the U.S. Army called him to serve. He re-joined The Phoenix Symphony in 1976.
A sports car enthusiast, Johnson admits that driving the mountain roads of Arizona in his Maserati is his idea of heaven. He also enjoys car racing as a spectator at Phoenix International Raceway, and has worked in a volunteer capacity at the Phoenix Grand Prix.
Johnson and his wife, Sharon, an oboist who teaches English as a Second Language, are the parents of two sons, Scott and Brent.