Robert Leroy Johnson..The King of the Delta Blues Lives
Robert Leroy Johnson .. The King of the Delta Blues Live Up!
Probably the most mysterious Singer and Guitarist of the twentieth century is now one of the most respected and respected of all the musicians who make up the genre of the blues. Of course, I’m talking about the wonderful Robert Leroy Johnson. Born in a deep South plantation in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, in 1911, in his spicy short life, he became one of the founders of the Blues.
He recorded only 36 sides between November 1936 and June 1937 in San Antonio Texas between a few months. These remarkable recordings keep tears in the eyes of the Blues aficionados around the world and form the face of today’s music.
The after-war Blues or Chicago owes a great blame to Robert Johnson and it’s sad to think what he’s been like when he lived! In just a few short years he has grown from a young black guitar player to a superstar of his day. The often repeated legend was continued by his contemporaries, that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his wonderful guitar techniques.
His story is one of hardships with great success in his own location of the Delta, and women said he was helplessly delivered when he sung his compositions. His death on the basis of a jealous man at the age of seven and twenty years robbed the world of one of America’s best artists of music and blues.
Years after his death in 1938 a photo was dug up, one of only two. It not only shows its indifferent style of dress but rather remarkable slim fingers that helped him achieve his unique mastery of the bottleneck guitar technique. He was depicted in a chalk streak that was a little over emphasized for a man in his position at that time. When I first saw the picture, one thing was above and beyond its beautiful long fingers enclosing the guitar finger plate, and of course it seemed like a woman was helpless in his arms!
As far as his subject matter is concerned, nothing has changed in the course of time; the centuries old painful process of unrequited love; of restless desires to move on the line to new pastures; unfaithful liaisons; and of course a lot of sexual innuendo.
Robert Johnson’s skill as poet of time and place is absolutely unbeatable in my estimation! Surely he borrowed words, phrases and guitar leaks from his peers, but they grew into something unique, which is not only the test of time but also a relevance to the Rock Music of today.
There can be no Blues Band on this planet that has not been influenced by Johnson and his music, and it is proof of the greatness of the man! The list of recordings of Johnsons songs by modern artists is endless and forms the backbone of the revival of the Blues in the early 1960s in Britain and continues until today! Most of the long-standing Bands of the R, N, B Revolution of 62, 63, and until the Seventies, recorded several Roberts songs. The Rolling Stones, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Elmore James, and many more is known among other things. Johnson’s songs transcribe very well to the new electric guitar lineups from the fifties and until the sixties. Probably, one of the most popular of his songs, which I can not imagine that someone has not heard in a modern format, is of course Crossroad Blues.
This song was recorded in 1968 at the Fillmore in San Francisco by Big Eric Clapton and his two friends, Jack Bruce on bass and stokman, Ginger Baker. This song also appeared in Creams’ farewell concert at the Albert Hall in London in 1969. I doubt if Johnson planned this treatment of his song when he wrote it or that his poetry would be the cornerstone of the Blues Revival of the Sixties one day.
It is a fascinating end to his story that the great impresario John Hammond, who later reported a young Bob Dylan in 1962, was just too late when he sought Robert to go to Carnegie Hall in the Carnegie Hall in 1938 appears. Robert Johnson was dead, but his spirit and music will live forever in the hearts and minds of the lovers of the music that we call BLOES.