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Died On This Date (August 16, 1938) Robert Johnson / Blues Icon

Posted by themusicsover on August 16, 2010

Robert Johnson
May 11, 1911 – August 16, 1938

Member of the 27 Club

Although his recording career remarkably spanned roughly one year, Robert Johnson is considered by many to be the most influential blues artists of all time.  And although his entire catalog of recordings fill just two compact discs, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #5 on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.  He minimal recording output couldn’t deny the considerable vocal, guitar-playing and songwriting talent he possessed.  And that fact that not much is known about his history coupled with the fact that only two photographs of him even exist, add to a legend that is as big as any in popular music.  Even the most respected historians of music could, at best, find sources who claimed they heard “this” or “that” about Johnson’s life in and around Clarksdale, Mississippi.  A popular legend has it that he went to a darkened Mississippi crossroad with his guitar and met a man representing the devil who tuned his guitar and played a few songs on it, there bequeathing Johnson phenomenal guitar skills in exchange for is soul.   True or not, Johnson has been called the “grandfather of rock ‘n roll,” a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has been cited as a direct influence on the likes of Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Jeff Beck to name just a very few.  Robert Johnson’s death is as mysterious as his life,with the most popular, though disputed story being that he drank whiskey that had been laced with strychnine by the jealous husband of a woman Johnson is said to have flirted with at a juke joint.  He allegedly died a slow and painful death from the poison a few days later, at the age of just 27.  A further testament to the overall mystery surrounding Johnson’s life is the fact there are three separate tombstones said to mark his place of burial.

What You Should Own

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Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings - Robert Johnson

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