Were it not for the Beatles' American tour in 1964, guitarist Eric Johnson might very well be playing classical piano professionally and performing with orchestras all over the world. As it were though, after that event, and with both electric and acoustic guitar in hand, he began studying the blues, jazz, country, folk and rock. His particular sound has earned him a Grammy Award, five nominations, a platinum album and hits such as "Cliffs of Dover."

This fall, he picks up again on the "Up Close" album's summer tour that took him and his fellow musicians through August. Friday, the Eric Johnson Electric Band captivates fans at the Howard Theatre with music from this release and more.

The "Up Close" tour (the album was released in 2010) features electric pop and rock with, Johnson says, "a couple of acoustic pieces thrown in." He has a new country cut and a new instrumental folk song in the lineup, and his is the music of a well-seasoned, versatile performer who is just fine calling his music fusion, even as he mixes it all up in the bargain.

"[Music] is a melting pot," said the musician, songwriter, producer and vocalist. "This has become more of a classified world. It's all tied together, and it's all shrinking because of our connections, you know? We all share the same sounds."

The Eric Johnson Electric Band
Where: The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW
When: 8 p.m. Friday, doors open at 6:00 p.m.
Info: $35 in advance, $40 on day of show; 202-803-2899; thehowardtheatre.com

Johnson recorded his first album, "Tones" in 1986, and was soon featured on the cover of magazines. "Ah Via Musicom," released in 1990, went platinum with the single "Cliffs of Dover" earning him the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Subsequent albums, such as "Venus Isle" in 1996 and "Live from Austin TX" in 2005 earned him critical acclaim.

In his music and on this current album, Johnson explores themes of reflection, emotional revelations, personal growth and fulfillment.

"We're all kind of sharing the same road together," he said. "I'm just trying to stay true to [the music], to stay open and keep embellishing the potential and to go to a place where I can be inspiring to people."