Johnson Quick Facts
• Born in 1911, in Hazlehurst, Mississippi; died in 1938
• Heyday: 1930’s in the Mississippi Delta
• The 29 recordings that survived Johnson were made over just five days
• Rumored to have gone from mediocre guitarist to master, almost overnight (See “Crossroads” below)
• His guitar playing technique pushed the boundaries of the instrument, sometimes mimicking other instruments such as the piano
• Was also said to have been a skilled jaw harp and harmonica
“Sweet Home Chicago”
The legend behind “Crossroads” is that Johnson went down to a crossroads one night, at midnight, and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his own legendary musical skills. Though verifying the tale is akin to verifying the existence of the Tooth Fairy, some of Johnson’s contemporaries vouched for his sudden improvement.
“I Believe I’ll Dust my Broom”
This song makes use of the Boogie rhythm, new to the blues scene at the time. Some say the song has African roots; others say it’s simply about Johnson’s rambling lifestyle.
• Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl: The Life and Music of Robert Johnson
• The Robert Johnson Foundation
• 10 Things you Gotta Do to Play Like Robert Johnson
• Robert Johnson’s Legacy:
• Robert Johnson Tabs with Rhythm