Author(s): Barry Lee Pearson
With just forty-one recordings to his credit, Robert Johnson (1911-38) is a giant in the history of blues music. Johnson's vast influence on twentieth-century American music, combined with his mysterious death at the age of twenty-seven, has allowed speculation and myths to obscure the facts of his life. The most famous of these legends depicts a young Johnson meeting the Devil at a dusty Mississippi crossroads at midnight and selling his soul in exchange for prodigious guitar skills.In this volume, Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch examine the full range of writings about Johnson and sift fact from fiction. They compare conflicting accounts of Johnson's life, weighing them against interviews with blues musicians and others who knew the man. Through their extensive research Pearson and McCulloch uncover a life every bit as compelling as the fabrications and exaggerations that have sprung up around it. In examining Johnson's life and music, and the ways in which both have been reinvented and interpreted by other artists, critics, and fans, "Robert Johnson: Lost and Found" charts the broader cultural forces that have mediated the expression of African American artistic traditions.
A thorough examination of the truth and myth surrounding one of the greatest original blues performers in America.
"[Pearson and McCulloch] traced the paper trail of the Johnson myth through the decades and found that white critics and promoters were telling tall tales about him while he was still alive. The authors tracked down misleading articles about him dating to 1937, and reconstructed the comical spread of Johnson's Faust legend--that he sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads in return for his extraordinary gifts as a guitarist--from a single, dubious 1966 interview of Johnson's friend and fellow blues musician Son House." New York Times "By far the best book yet on Johnson." Dirty Linen "A reminder that Johnson's talent was enough; he didn't need the devil's help to become a legend." Library Journal