Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TROPICAL JON: Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 17, 1938)

     Although his records sold poorly during his lifetime, Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Mississippi Delta Blues style. He is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence; Eric Clapton has called Johnson "the most important blues singer that ever lived."

Johnson was mainly an itinerate musician, travelling place to place --Music was his "hustle."
     When Johnson arrived in a new town, he would play for tips on street corners or in front of the local barbershop or a restaurant. Musical associates stated in live performances Johnson often did not focus on his dark and complex original compositions, but instead pleased audiences by performing more well-known pop standards of the day.


     According to his friend, Johnny Shines: "Robert was a very friendly person, even though he was sulky at times, you know. And I hung around Robert for quite a while. One evening he disappeared. He was kind of a peculiar fellow. Robert'd be standing up playing some place, playing like nobody's business. At about that time it was a hustle with him as well as a pleasure. And money'd be coming from all directions. But Robert'd just pick up and walk off and leave you standing there playing. And you wouldn't see Robert no more maybe in two or three weeks ... So Robert and I, we began journeying off. I was just, matter of fact, tagging along."


 Wayne Dabney I've shot some photos of Honey Boy Edwards, last living RJ band member

(Last living Robert Johnson band member--Photo by Wayne Dabney)

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