Robert Johnson’s early life is shrouded in mystery and little is known about his early years. He was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in 1911, and grew up in a family of sharecroppers. As a young man, Johnson was said to have been an aspiring musician, but he struggled to make a name for himself in the highly competitive world of blues music.
In the mid-1930s, Johnson left Mississippi and traveled to Memphis and then to Helena, Arkansas, where he played in clubs and juke joints. It was during this time that he began to develop his distinctive guitar-playing style, which combined fingerpicking with slide guitar techniques.
In 1936, Johnson recorded his first songs for the American Record Corporation, but these recordings failed to gain much attention. It wasn’t until a year later, when he recorded his iconic song “Terraplane Blues,” that Johnson’s star began to rise. Over the next few months, he recorded a number of other classic blues songs, including “Cross Road Blues,” “Love in Vain,” and “Hellhound on My Trail.”
Robert Johnson Sold His Soul To The Devil At The Crossroads
Johnson’s sudden and dramatic rise to fame led to the development of the famous legend about him selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads. According to the story, Johnson was said to have gone to a crossroads near Dockery Plantation in Mississippi, where he met a mysterious figure who is sometimes identified as the devil. The devil offered to tune Johnson’s guitar for him, and in exchange, Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil, granting him incredible musical ability.
Tragically, Johnson’s meteoric rise was cut short when he died under mysterious circumstances in 1938, at the age of just 27. The cause of his death remains unknown, but it’s believed that he may have been poisoned by a jealous husband or lover. Despite his short life, Robert Johnson’s impact on the blues and rock and roll genres has been immense, and his music continues to inspire and influence musicians around the world.
The legend of Johnson’s supposed pact with the devil has been the subject of much speculation and debate over the years. Some people believe that the story is true and that Johnson’s incredible musical talent was indeed the result of a supernatural deal. Others believe that the story is simply a myth, created to explain Johnson’s prodigious talent in a way that was both memorable and mysterious.
Regardless of whether the story is true or not, there’s no denying the impact that Robert Johnson had on the world of music.
Robert Johnson’s music influenced rock and roll in his guitar playing style, which featured intricate fingerpicking patterns and unique use of chords and melodies. This style was later adapted and expanded upon by rock and roll guitarists such as Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, who incorporated it into their own playing and helped to create the sound of the genre.
Although his recording career spanned only seven months, he is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly the Delta blues style, and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as being “the first ever rock star”.
If you found this article interesting and would like to know the full story. Be sure to catch the documentary Devil At The Crossroads: A Robert Johnson Story on Netflix.