Robert Johnson

A hundred years ago, a boy-child, an African-American boy, was born in Mississippi. He would grow up and learn the blues. He was known as the “King of the Delta Blues Singers” over the years. His music has been recorded by many of the biggest rock stars, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers. Robert Johnson was the boy-child of Robert Johnson, an itinerant guitarist and blues singer who lived between 1911 and 1938. Between 1936 and 1937, he recorded 29 songs for American Record Corporation. They released 11 78rpm records under Johnson1s name and one after his passing. Many of these songs have been made canonical and are considered to be timeless anthems of this genre. Johnson managed to do this with an extraordinary intensity. He combined his powerful vocals with a mastery of the guitar, and his music has survived well beyond the glory days of country blues, as well as his short life. The hardships of the world were never transformed into poetry. Never has the blues reached such emotional depths. Johnson used the dark loneliness, terrors, and difficult lifestyle of being an African-American living in the South during World War II to create music that is universally relevant and has global appeal. Keith Richards asked Johnson, “Do you want to know how great the blues can be?” He answered his own question with the following: “Well, this it is.” Eric Clapton stated more clearly: “I have never found anything more soulful than Robert Johnson.” We now know very little about Johnson and the biographical information that we have has only been revealed at a glacial rate. His life was filled with myths, such as the belief that he was a country boy who became a ladies’ man and that he achieved his extraordinary musical skills only after selling his soul to Satan. Even his tragic death seemed to be mythic in scale: he was poisoned by his jealous boyfriend and then expired after three days. This happened while John Hammond, a legendary talent scout, was looking for him to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Sony Legacy released Robert Johnson: Complete Recordings, a 2-CD box set, in 1990 to wide critical acclaim. It also saw unprecedented sales for a country-blues reissue. The Complete Recordings demonstrated the existence of a market for music from Sony1s deepest catalogs, particularly if it was accompanied by a compelling story that has mainstream appeal. Johnson1s fame continues to grow and has no signs of slowing down. Robert Johnson is the most well-known country blues artist in today’s hip-hop and heavy music worlds. from

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