You may not know who he is, but if you like blues, or rock n roll, then your favorite performer has been influenced by this man in one day or the other. Hell, my favorite show Supernatural had an episode including Mr. Johnson and the aftermath of his Faustian deal with the hellhounds on his trail.
Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy and poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to many legends. One Faustian myth says that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads of Mississippi highways to achieve success. As an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, Johnson had little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime.
After the reissue of his recordings in 1961, on the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers, his work reached a wider audience. Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Mississippi Delta blues style. He is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence; the blues and rock musician Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.”
Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first induction ceremony, in 1986, as an early influence on rock and roll. In 2003, David Fricke ranked Johnson fifth in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
Johnson died on August 16, 1938, at the age of 27, near Greenwood, Mississippi, of unknown causes. Several differing accounts have described the events preceding his death. Johnson had been playing for a few weeks at a country dance in a town about 15 miles (24 km) from Greenwood. According to one theory, Johnson was murdered by the jealous husband of a woman with whom he had flirted. In an account by the blues musician Sonny Boy Williamson, Johnson had been flirting with a married woman at a dance, and she gave him a bottle of whiskey poisoned by her husband. When Johnson took the bottle, Williamson knocked it out of his hand, admonishing him to never drink from a bottle that he had not personally seen opened. Johnson replied, “Don’t ever knock a bottle out of my hand.” Soon after, he was offered another (poisoned) bottle and accepted it. Johnson is reported to have begun feeling ill the evening after and had to be helped back to his room in the early morning hours. Over the next three days his condition steadily worsened. Witnesses reported that he died in a convulsive state of severe pain. The musicologist Robert “Mack” McCormick claimed to have tracked down the man who murdered Johnson and to have obtained a confession from him in a personal interview, but he declined to reveal the man’s name.
So here is the famous/infamous “Crossroad”. Enjoy
“I never loved another person the way I loved myself”. – Mae West