Let's Get Physical | Legacies HDTV 720p AC3 5.1 | Paper.io 2 APK
{{:: 'cloud_flare_always_on_short_message' | i18n }}
Check @genius for updates. We'll have things fixed soon.

Robert Johnson

About Robert Johnson

According to xroads.virginia.edu, Robert Johnson was born on May 8, 1911 in Hazelhurst, Mississippi; but he spent a chunk of his youth in Robinsonville. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, the first musical instrument Johnson played was the Jew’s harp, then he moved on to the harmonica. He began playing guitar in the late 1920s. Johnson’s influences included Charley Patton and Willie Brown. He married Virginia Travis in February 1929; she died in childbirth the following year at the age of 16.

Around this time, Robert Johnson became enamored of the music of bluesman Son House. He followed House to his shows; House said that when Johnson played guitar he sounded terrible. Johnson moved back to Hazelhurst where he continued to perform and he married again in 1931. It was during his stint in Hazelurst that Johnson met Ike Zinneman, who had a sinister reputation for having learned guitar while sitting on tombstones.

Johnson returned to Robinsonville a much better guitar player, making a big impression on Son House. That’s when rumors of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil began. He recorded his songs for the first time in late 1936, and additional songs in mid-1937. After touring for about a year, Johnson met his tragic death in Greenwood, MS. There were rumors that he was stabbed, poisoned, or that the Devil came for him.

Johnson’s style was a precursor to blues musicians who used electric guitars such as Muddy Waters. There were rumors that he had played electric guitar.

It seems that those with the propensity for finding dots that connect the devil to a particular musician or genre of music tend to lean toward religious zealousness. However, when the delta bluesman Robert Johnson (1911-1938) finds his way into a discussion, even the most ardent atheist often finds a way to weave in talking about the legend of Johnson’s experience at the crossroads, the location where he allegedly traded the devil his soul for mastery of the six strings.

Why is this story so captivating? Johnson’s Faustian reputation wasn’t the first of its kind. In fact, during the previous century a similar tale enraptured the audience of the violin phenom Paganini.

As Johnson only recorded 29 songs in his short life, it’s difficult for some to comprehend how such a young man was able to play rhythm, lead, and slide guitar simultaneously, while also sing hauntingly dark, cryptic, and foreboding lyrics.

Even in 2015, few guitarists have been able to replicate Johnson’s sound and innovation has come primarily from advances in amplification and sound technology rather than technical skills and guitar proficiency.

This ahead-of-the-time talent can serve as the catalyst for some fans to put faith in some holy giver of gifts, but can also align haters to blame some nefarious under lord doling out blessings indiscriminately and even perhaps unfairly.

At any rate, despite Johnson’s talent, the events of his life weren’t a far cry from the troubles that filled the lyrics of his songs. And, as an early member of the 27 club, he was poisoned, allegedly, by the husband of a woman with whom he’d been having an affair.

Johnson’s influence is immeasurable. The surge of British rock bands in the 1960s was due in no small part to his influence. Attempting to emulate or elaborate on his soulful vocal deliveries and his enigmatic playing style, estimable rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton have all covered his songs. They are only the tip of the ice burg.