Robert Johnson Dies
Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues musician, among the most famous of Delta blues musicians.
His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend.
Johnson's songs, vocal phrasing and guitar style have influenced a broad range of musicians, including Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton; Clapton has called Johnson "the most important blues singer that ever lived". Johnson has been called "the Grandfather of Rock and Roll", and in 1986 he was among the first musicians to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "early influence" category. He was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
In the last year of his life, Johnson is believed to have traveled to St. Louis and possibly Illinois, and then to some states in the East. He spent some time in Memphis and traveled through the Mississippi Delta and Arkansas. By the time he died, at least six of his records had been released in the South as race records.
Johnson died on August 16, 1938, at the age of 27, near Greenwood, Mississippi. He had been playing for a few weeks at a country dance in a town about 15 miles (24 km) from Greenwood. There are a number of accounts and theories regarding the events preceding his death. One of these is that one evening Johnson began flirting with a woman at a dance. One version of this rumor says she was the wife of the juke joint owner, and that she was unaware that the bottle of whiskey she gave to Johnson had been poisoned by her husband; in another version, she was a married woman unrelated to the juke joint owner.