Episode 5 : Robert Johnson : The devil’s hand!
→ Discover our design inspired by the story of Robert Johnson carved out from a recycled vinyl record!
On august 16th, 1938, Robert Johnson went away! He probably is the least known of the 27 Club undeniably the most enigmatic one, certainly due to the fact we have little information about him.
Robert Johnson was the first one of the series of cursed artists who died at the age of 27. Having begun to compose only 3 years before his death, he recorded in all and for all 29 songs in two sessions which were held respectively in November 1936 and June 1937. Some of the songs have been captured twice, making a total of 42 recordings. It is not a lot, but his songs have had and continue to have a major impact on how music and its genres have evolved since then.
He died in mysterious circumstances. After a gig in a bar in Greenwood, Mississippi, he was feeling ill so he was brought back to a friend’s house. The next morning he was found lifeless.
Several theories are so advanced : poisoning, syphilis, pneumonia or all three together. Versions of his death were as likely as each other considering the lack of information on this legendary bluesman’s life. But it wasn’t lack of looking out. On his death certificate, you can read the words ‘No Doctor’.
On thing is certain : he died on August 16th, 1938.
Face to this lack of information, I can’t leave you guys in the lurch. I prefer to tell you about the amazing story of the well appointed Robert Johnson and his pact with the devil !
For lack of credible and/or authentic testimony, it must be understood that it is pretty difficult to separate Robert Johson’s artistic talent and the legend that sticks to his skin.
‘It all began on a full moon, it was hot…too hot. As he was walking near Clarksdale, Mississippi, the young Johnson got lost at the intersection of 49 and 61. Nothing on the horizon, no more to the left than to the right. Not knowing which road to take and with the oppressive heat, he decided to take a nap along the road. When he began to fall into deep sleep, a cool breeze came to cherish him. Then the wind became stronger, the sky darkened and the atmosphere charged itself with electricity. It was an unusual weather for the season. Johnson stood up and looked either side of the intersection, he eventually distinguished a shadow floating in the air. As it moved towards him, his eyes opened wider. Without any noise, nor a word, the shadow bent over and seized Robert’s guitar, granted it and played some divine notes before disappearing leaving his guitar as well as its talent at the top of the fingers. The pact was sealed, Robert had just sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his dexterity to play the guitar.
It is however difficult, despite the questioning of certain people who have met the artist, to have a reliable opinion on the true existence of this alliance between them.
We can all admit the major influence Robert had on music, since he fascinated many artists from the 1960’s till today.
Robert Johnson has become a legend and a great source of inspiration for artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Bob Dylan, Brian Jones, Keith Richards or even Eric Clapton.
So keep in mind what kind of legacy history has left us with, the best kind : The music of the devil!