Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celebrating The Centennial of Robert Johnson, Legendary Blues Master

“His music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head, and on the horizon. It is the finest music I have ever heard.” – Eric Clapton

“The music of Robert Johnson has inspired a thousand riffs. The myth of Robert Johnson has inspired a million dreams…” – Jimmy Page

"Robert Johnson, to whom we all owed our existence in some way.” – Robert Plant

These quotations from three English rock and blues musicians are testimony to the reverence held for Robert Johnson, the greatest blues songwriter of all time. Johnson was born 100 years ago today, May 8, 1911. Much of Johnson’s life is shrouded in myth; according to legend, he sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads so that he could be a guitar master. Johnson recorded 29 tracks in Texas, many with themes that resonate with his haunted legend: “Hell Hound On My Trail,” “Cross Road Blues,” “Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil),” “Me and the Devil Blues.” Johnson died at age 27, supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband. For more about this Mississippi Delta master, whose music has been covered by countless artists, I recommend “Searching for Robert Johnson” by Peter Guralnick. The following is a video on Johnson’s life:

This animated video by artist Inekes Goes is set to Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues”:

Eric Clapton, Johnson's greatest advocate, comments on the complexity of his music and performs "Stones in My Passway":

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