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Robert Johnson was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition today, and audio from their broadcast is available below. In an accompanying article, NPR wrote:
Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Johnson. Although he recorded just 29 songs, the bluesman had a huge influence on guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Johnson is one of the most studied of all country blues musicians, and he’s been the subject of many books, films and essays. But the mythology surrounding his life just won’t go away.
If you know anything about Johnson, chances are it’s the story that he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads in exchange for his musical talent. That legend reached a mainstream audience with the 1986 movie Crossroads, starring Joe Seneca and Ralph Macchio.
But according to folklorist Barry Lee Pearson, it didn’t happen.
Read more at NPR.org.
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NPR’s All Songs Considered published a fresh perspective on Robert Johnson today. You can read their article here, and tune in to NPR’s Weekend Edition on Saturday, May 7th for a piece on “The Complete Original Masters: Centennial Edition.” Until then, here’s some historical context on Robert Johnson’s song “Hellhound On My Trail.”
Iconic Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson’s life was brief (he died at 27) and his recorded output was modest (just 29 songs), but his legacy looms larger than ever in the centennial year of his birth.
In anticipation of the May 8 milestone, the music world is honoring the man behind a powerful legend — Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar-playing prowess — with festivals, tribute records and expansive repackaging of his recordings.
Read more at USAToday.com.
When bluesman Robert Johnson died broke and all but unknown in a tiny Mississippi crossroads town, he was buried in a homemade coffin and an unmarked grave. Yet, a century after he came into this world, his eerie blues still influence artists from Eric Clapton to John Mayer, and his legacy continues to be celebrated.
“I’m amazed by it after all these years,” Steven Johnson said of his grandfather’s musical legacy. “It seems like it just passed down from generation to generation.”
Steven Johnson will be part of a big party that begins Thursday in Greenwood, the small Mississippi Delta town, where Johnson had been playing his music on a street corner shortly before his death.
The free celebration will feature an art exhibit, tours of Johnson’s haunts and other historic blues sites, as well as live music Friday and Saturday from Bobby Rush, The Cedric Burnside Project, Keb’ Mo’, Alvin Youngblood Hart and others. The event is sponsored by the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Read more at The Associated Press.