Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Robert Johnson Anniversary


I came across this article from a friend’s Facebook feed which reminded me of a 75th Anniversary yesterday that shouldn’t go unnoticed.  75 years ago, Robert Johnson, an itinerant blues guitarist who never achieved much fame in life as he played in racially segregated jute joints and night clubs around the Mississippi delta, made his final recordings for the Brunswick Record Corporation in Dallas Texas.  Today, Johnson is known as one of the greatest guitarists of all times.  It was Johnson’s third visit to a studio, the first two being in San Antonio, Texas.  A year later, Johnson died at the age of 27.  Over the years many legends have risen concerning how Johnson came to play the blues (he sold his soul to the devil at a country crossroads) and how he died (the husband of one of his lovers poisoned a bottle of whiskey).   He’s been featured in movies (remember the scene in “O Brother, Where Art Thou” where they pick him up at a lonesome crossroad in the Mississippi delta?) and in the early 1960s many of his songs were re-released in time for the rise of Rock-and-Roll as musicians such as Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Hendrix and Keith Richards were all influenced by his music.  Many of his songs have been recorded by others include “The Rolling Stones” and “Led Zepplin.”  In the early 90s, right after they were released, I purchased his two CD volume, “The Complete Recordings.”  The boxed set includes a biography of Johnson (there is much that is not known) as well as tributes to the man by Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.  Today, according to the article, the building where Johnson’s final recordings were made is being restored by First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Texas as part of the church’s commitment to Dallas’ downtown.

13 comments:

  1. One of my partners is a Blues nut and turned me on to Johnson years ago. Great stuff.

    Cheers.

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    1. In St Louis, I'd think you'd be a blues' fan!

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  2. I am trying to think of a Robert Johnson song that Led Zep did?? any help

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  3. it is sad that so many are cut down in their prime...and thanks for not letting this go unnoticed....

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    1. Yep, but he really wasn't well known outside of Delta jute joints until well after his death--in 1960 his music was re-released and it is as if he rose from the grave!

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  4. The first time I'm hearing about Robert Johnson, and am curious to hear his music now.

    Tragic end, so young. Promise cut short.

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  5. What is absolutely amazing was the numbers of deaths in their twenties of people from 1880 until well into the 1960. And while this fellow may have been poisoned far more went from TB and genetic syphilis, even leprosy was rife in the cities of the south. It wasn't until the 1930s that anything was done.

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    1. For musicians, it seems even more of them have died early, but it does have something to do with the lifestyle.

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  6. The Blues is one of my favorites of all time too! Thanks for sharing this!

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  7. I was around for the Robert Johnson revival back in the 1960s, but I have to say I haven't heard a recording of his for a long time. Have to do something about that. Thanks for the tribute.

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  8. LOVE Robert Johnson. One of my all time favorite songs is Crossroads by Cream. Most folks don't know that is a cover of a Robert Johnson song.

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