The Legend of Bluesman Robert Johnson Animated

Robert John­son, the leg­endary blues­man, would have turned 100 this week. That’s well beyond the age he actu­al­ly lived to – a very young 27. Dur­ing his short life (1911–1938), John­son record­ed 29 indi­vid­ual songs. But they could not have been more influ­en­tial. Songs like Cross Road Blues, Sweet Home Chica­go, and Kind Heart­ed Woman Blues (all found in this new­ly-released Cen­ten­ni­al Col­lec­tion) had a remark­able influ­ence on musi­cians grow­ing up gen­er­a­tions lat­er. Kei­th Richards, Eric Clap­ton, Robert Plant – they all acknowl­edge a deep debt to John­son.

Speak­ing of debts, you can’t talk about Robert John­son with­out talk­ing about the famous dev­il leg­end. The leg­end holds that John­son made a Faus­t­ian bar­gain with the dev­il, sell­ing his soul in exchange for bound­less musi­cal tal­ent. It’s a great tale, and it all gets brought back to life in “Dev­il­ish Detail,” a new ani­mat­ed film (above) fea­tur­ing illus­tra­tions by Christo­pher Dar­ling. You can view it in a larg­er for­mat on

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.