Good morning my Dangerous Crew,
Some say he was the king of the Delta Blues, Some say he was just a guitar player, Some say he went to the crossroads and sold his soul to the Devil to become the greatest blues guitar player in history.
Born approximately May 8, 1911 in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, Robert Leroy Johnson had a love of music at a young age and went on to be one of the greatest blues men off all time. Such legends such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and other’s have a credited Robert as one of the most influential blues singers that ever lived. Johnson also wrote Crossroads in 1936 which has been covered by many artists in several genre’s.
Not only is Johnson the King of the Delta Blues but the Urban Legend behind how he got his amazing talent is just off the hook. Did it really happen? The music bug bit Johnson at a early age, he dreamed of being the best guitar player that ever lived. Johnson is considered the master of the blues, especially the Delta Blues Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones said in a 1990 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine. As stories and legends say Johnson was known as a mediocre musician by his peer’s before he disappeared for almost a year and came back with a amazing talent that floored everyone. Stories say Johnson would hang around the musicians just waiting to play, some stories claim that the other musicians who allegedly felt sorry for him would let him play during band breaks. Remember these are stories, honestly some can’t be 100% confirmed.
Johnson who was tired of being called mediocre decided to find a great blues guitarist and learn to be better. that’s what I think. Some say Johnson went deep in the Delta and found a musician that was able to teach him and Johnson worked very hard to become perfect before his return. Others say that Johnson wanting to be the best headed down to Clarksdale, Mississippi where the crossroads of highway 49 & 61 meet. There they say Johnson made a deal with the Devil in return for exceptional skills. One story I read was if you go to the Crossroads between midnight and 3am, sit and play a tune on your guitar, a man will approach you and take your guitar, he will play a tune and hand it back to you, if you take the guitar when handed back to you, you have just sold your soul to the Devil for the talent you desire. From Greek Mythology to African Mythology there are many stories of the crossroads and they all differ.
Johnson’s life was mysterious, so many stories of how he obtained the skills. We can see how rumors and urban legends start. Johnson wrote and recorded 29 songs from 1936 to 1937 which some to this day believe this was the work of the Devil . These include “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and “Sweet Home Chicago,” which have become a blues standard. His songs have been recorded by Muddy Waters, Elmore James, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Johnson’s life was cut short at the age of 27. Some say that he tried to back out of the deal with the Devil, others say he was poisoned by a jealous husband? I would say the 2nd is what really happened. It seems that Johnson flirted with a married woman and her husband was not thrilled with it. The woman gave Johnson a gift of a bottle of Whisky that her husband allegedly poisoned. A friend slapped the bottle out of Johnson’s hands telling him to never accept s bottle of anything that the seal was broken. Johnson angry, told his friend to never knock a bottle from his hands again. The woman gifted him another bottle, he drank from it and bam, Johnson was dead. Yet to this day some believe that Johnson died from his deal with the Devil. I leave that up to you what you want to believe.
Not only has the song Crossroads been covered by many musicians it is also featured in the highly rated tv show Supernatural.
Johnson died at the young age of 27 on August 16, 1938 in Greenwood, MIssissippi as the suspected victim of a deliberate poisoning. Several movies and documentaries have tried to shed light on this enigmatic blues legend. Was he poisoned? Did he sell his soul at the crossroads to be the greatest blues man? Urban Legend or the truth? I will leave that up to you!
Johnson came to the attention of many musicians and won over new fans with a reissue of his work in the 1960s. Another retrospective collection of his recordings released in the 1990s sold millions of copies.