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Born in Dublin, Georgia, Birch "Crimson Slide" Johnson spent his early childhood years in North Carolina and the Philippine Islands. His family finally settled in Tuscaloosa, Alabama when he was in the fifth grade. After graduating from the University of Alabama (home of the Alabama Crimson Tide), he did a ten month stint with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra before enrolling at the prestigious Eastman School of Music. About a year and a half later, now armed with a master's degree from Eastman, he joined Woody Herman's Young Thundering Herd and for nearly three years toured the United States and Europe almost non-stop. Woody, happily, was still alive and was a wonderful source of wry wisdom on the music business. After a month and a half respite in Tuscaloosa, he screwed up his nerve and moved to New York City. He joined the "Blues Brothers Band" in the early nineties and was quickly given the moniker "Crimson Slide" by Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin.

Since moving to New York, Birch has been a first call studio trombonist and has recorded and played with many, if not most, of the major musical artists of our time. His session work has included many feature film soundtracks and television shows. He has been a featured soloist from such diverse projects as Donald Fagen's "Kamakiriad" to HBO's feature movie "Third Degree Burn". More recently, he has been an active composer and has amassed an impressive array of writing credits for his work in television. In 2000, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his compositions for CBS's "Guiding Light".