Robert Johnson - Wikipedia
A "vision", as told by Henry Goodman Robert Johnson been playing down in Yazoo City and over at Beulah trying to get back up to Helena, ride. What happened at the crossroads: Blues legend and his deal with the Johnson apparently met Satan at a crossroad where he offered his. Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, – August 16, ) was an American blues .. Tom Graves, in his book Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert There he was met by a large black man (the devil) who took the guitar and.
He reputedly asked homely young women living in the country with their families whether he could go home with them, and in most cases he was accepted, until a boyfriend arrived or Johnson was ready to move on.
Louis and possibly Illinois and then to some states in the East. InColumbia Records producer John H. On learning of Johnson's death, Hammond replaced him with Big Bill Broonzybut he played two of Johnson's records from the stage.
Recording sessions[ edit ] Johnson's recordings were released by several record companies: Speirwho ran a general store and also acted as a talent scout.
The recording session was held on November 23,in room of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio,  which Brunswick Records had set up to be a temporary recording studio. In the ensuing three-day session, Johnson played 16 selections and recorded alternate takes for most of them. He reportedly performed facing the wall, which has been cited as evidence he was a shy man and reserved performer.
This conclusion was played up in the inaccurate liner notes of the album King of the Delta Blues Singers.
The slide guitarist Ry Cooder speculates that Johnson played facing a corner to enhance the sound of the guitar, a technique he calls "corner loading". The first to be released were " Terraplane Blues " and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", probably the only recordings of his that he would live to hear.
According to Elijah Waldit was "the most musically complex in the cycle"  and stood apart from most rural blues as a thoroughly composed lyric, rather than an arbitrary collection of more or less unrelated verses. Johnson did two takes of most of these songs, and recordings of those takes survived. Because of this, there is more opportunity to compare different performances of a single song by Johnson than for any other blues performer of his time and place.
Several differing accounts have described the events preceding his death. 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 WilliamsonJohnson 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.
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. Tom Graves, in his book Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson, relies on expert testimony from toxicologists to argue that strychnine has such a distinctive odor and taste that it cannot be disguised, even in strong liquor.
Graves also claims that a significant amount of strychnine would have to be consumed in one sitting to be fatal, and that death from the poison would occur within hours, not days. Whitfield, wrote on Johnson's death certificate: I talked with the white man on whose place this negro died and I also talked with a negro woman on the place.
The plantation owner said the negro man, seemingly about 26 years old, came from Tunica two or three weeks before he died to play banjo at a negro dance given there on the plantation. He stayed in the house with some of the negroes saying he wanted to pick cotton. The white man did not have a doctor for this negro as he had not worked for him. He was buried in a homemade coffin furnished by the county. The plantation owner said it was his opinion that the man died of syphilis.
What happened at the crossroads: Blues legend and his deal with the Devil
Research in the s and s strongly suggests Johnson was buried in the graveyard of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church near Morgan City, Mississippi, not far from Greenwood, in an unmarked grave. A one-ton cenotaph in the shape of an obelisk, listing all of Johnson's song titles, with a central inscription by Peter Guralnickwas placed at this location inpaid for by Columbia Records and numerous smaller contributions made through the Mt.
Ina small marker with the epitaph "Resting in the Blues" was placed in the cemetery of Payne Chapel, near Quito, Mississippi, by an Atlanta rock group named the Tombstones, after they saw a photograph in Living Blues magazine of an unmarked spot alleged by one of Johnson's ex-girlfriends to be Johnson's burial site. Devil legend[ edit ] According to legend, as a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, Johnson had a tremendous desire to become a great blues musician.
He was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man the devil who took the guitar and tuned it.
The devil played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. This was a deal with the devil mirroring the legend of Faust. In exchange for his soul, Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.
Various accounts[ edit ] This legend was developed over time and has been chronicled by Gayle Dean Wardlow Edward Komara  and Elijah Wald, who sees the legend as largely dating from Johnson's rediscovery by white fans more than two decades after his death.
Welding reported it as a serious belief in a widely read article in Down Beat in Further details were absorbed from the imaginative retellings by Greil Marcus  and Robert Palmer.
There is dispute as to how and when the crossroads detail was attached to the Robert Johnson story. All the published evidence, including a full chapter on the subject in the biography Crossroads, by Tom Graves, suggests an origin in the story of the blues musician Tommy Johnson.
This story was collected from his musical associate Ishman Bracey and his elder brother Ledell in the s. This resembles the story told to Steve LaVere that Ike Zinnerman of Hazlehurst, Mississippilearned to play the guitar at midnight while sitting on tombstones. Zinnerman is believed to have influenced the playing of the young Johnson. Johnson and Ike Zimmerman the spelling reportedly given in census records for the family going back to the early s, on his Social Security card and Social Security death notice, on his funeral program, and by his daughters did practice in a graveyard at night, because it was quiet and no one would disturb them, but it was not the Hazlehurst cemetery as had been believed: Zimmerman was not from Hazlehurst but nearby Beauregardand he didn't practice in one graveyard, but in several in the area.
Crossroads (mythology) - Wikipedia
While Dockery, Hazlehurst and Beauregard have each been claimed as the locations of the mythical crossroads, there are also tourist attractions claiming to be "The Crossroads" in both Clarksdale and Memphis. The blues historian Steve Cheseborough wrote that it may be impossible to discover the exact location of the mythical crossroads, because "Robert Johnson was a rambling guy".
Hyatt wrote that, during his research in the South from towhen African-Americans born in the 19th or early 20th century said they or anyone else had "sold their soul to the devil at the crossroads," they had a different meaning in mind.
Hyatt claimed there was evidence indicating African religious retentions surrounding Legba and the making of a "deal" not selling the soul in the same sense as in the Faustian tradition cited by Graves with the so-called devil at the crossroads. It is said that the Blues singer could possess women and have any woman they wanted. And so when Robert Johnson came back, having left his community as an apparently mediocre musician, with a clear genius in his guitar style and lyrics, people said he must have sold his soul to the devil.
And that fits in with this old African association with the crossroads where you find wisdom: You sell your soul to become the greatest musician in history.
The devil imagery found in the blues is thoroughly familiar from western folklore, and nowhere do blues singers ever mention Legba or any other African deity in their songs or other lore.
The actual African music connected with cults of Legba and similar trickster deities sounds nothing like the blues, but rather features polyrhythmic percussion and choral call-and-response singing. Keith Richardsof the Rolling Stonessaid in"You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it. Robert Johnson looks over in the ditch and sees the eyes of the dog reflecting the bright moonlight or, more likely so it seems to Robert Johnson, glowing on their own, a deep violet penetrating glow, and Robert Johnson knows and feels that he is staring into the eyes of a Hellhound as his body shudders from head to toe.
The man says, "The dog ain't for sale, Robert Johnson, but the sound can be yours.
That's the sound of the Delta Blues. That sound is mine.
- Sell your soul to satan at the Devil's Crossroads
- Meeting with the Devil at the Crossroads
- Crossroads (mythology)
Where do I sign? Your word is good enough. All you got to do is keep walking north. But you better be prepared. You are standing in the middle of the crossroads.
What happened at the crossroads: Blues legend and his deal with the Devil
At midnight, that full moon is right over your head. You take one more step, you'll be in Rosedale. You take this road to the east, you'll get back over to Highway 61 in Cleveland, or you can turn around and go back down to Beulah or just go to the west and sit up on the levee and look at the River.
But if you take one more step in the direction you're headed, you going to be in Rosedale at midnight under this full October moon, and you are going to have the Blues like never known to this world. My left hand will be forever wrapped around your soul, and your music will possess all who hear it. That's what's going to happen. That's what you better be prepared for.
Your soul will belong to me.