The Story of Bluesman Robert Johnson’s Famous Deal With the Devil Retold in Three Animations

So many huge­ly suc­cess­ful and tal­ent­ed musi­cians have died at age 27 that it almost seems rea­son­able to believe the num­ber rep­re­sents some mys­ti­cal coef­fi­cient of tal­ent and tragedy. But sev­er­al decades before Jimi Hen­drix, Janis Joplin, Jim Mor­ri­son, Kurt Cobain, or Amy Wine­house left us too soon, Robert John­son—the man who pio­neered sell­ing one’s soul for rock and roll—died in 1938, at age 27, under mys­te­ri­ous and like­ly vio­lent cir­cum­stances. He was already a leg­end, and his sto­ry of meet­ing Satan at the cross­roads to make an exchange for his extra­or­di­nary tal­ent had already per­me­at­ed the pop­u­lar cul­ture of his day and became even more ingrained after his death—making him, well, maybe the very first rock star.

John­son’s few record­ings—29 songs in total—went on to influ­ence Eric Clap­ton, Kei­th Richards, 27 club mem­ber Bri­an Jones and so many oth­ers. And that’s not to men­tion the hun­dreds of Delta and Chica­go blues gui­tarists who picked John­son’s brain, or stopped short of sell­ing their souls try­ing to out­play him. But John­son, begins the ani­mat­ed short above (which tells the tale of the blues­man­’s infer­nal deal) “wasn’t always such an amaz­ing gui­tarist.” Leg­end has it he “cov­et­ed the tal­ents of Son House” and dreamed of star­dom. He acquired his tal­ent overnight, it seemed to those around him, who sur­mised he must have set out to the cross­roads, met the dev­il, and “made a deal.”

The rest of the story—of Robert Johnson’s fatal encounter with the jeal­ous hus­band of an admirer—is a more plau­si­ble devel­op­ment, though it too may be apoc­ryphal. “Not all of this may be true,” says the short film’s title cards, “but one thing is for cer­tain: No Robert John­son, No Rock and Roll.” This too is anoth­er leg­end. Oth­er ear­ly blues­men like Blind Willie John­son and Robert’s hero Son House exert­ed sim­i­lar influ­ence on 60s blues revival­ists, as of course did lat­er elec­tric play­ers like Mud­dy Waters, Howl­in’ Wolf, and B.B. King. John­son was a phe­nom­e­nal inno­va­tor, and a sin­gu­lar voice, but his repertoire—like those of most blues play­ers at the time—consisted of vari­a­tions on old­er songs, or respons­es to oth­er, very tal­ent­ed musi­cians.

Most of the songs he record­ed were in this vein—with at least two very notable excep­tions: “Cross Road Blues” (or just “Cross­roads”) and “Me and the Dev­il Blues,” both of which have con­tributed to the myth of John­son’s pact with Lucifer, includ­ing the part about the dark angel com­ing to col­lect his debt. In the lat­ter song, ani­mat­ed in a video above, Satan comes knock­ing on the singer’s door ear­ly in the morn­ing. “Hel­lo Satan,” says John­son, “I believe it’s time to go.” Much of what we think about John­son’s life comes from these songs, and from much rumor and innu­en­do. He may have been mur­dered, or—like so many lat­er stars who died too young—he may have sim­ply burned out. One blues singer who claims she met him as a child remem­bers him near the end of his life as “ill” and “sick­ly,” reports the Austin Chron­i­cle, “in a state of phys­i­cal dis­re­pair as though he’d been roughed up.”

John­son schol­ar Eli­jah Wald describes his his­to­ry like that of many founders of reli­gious sects: “So much research has been done [on John­son] that I have to assume the over­all pic­ture is fair­ly accu­rate. Still, this pic­ture has been pieced togeth­er from so many tat­tered and flim­sy scraps that almost any one of them must to some extent be tak­en on faith.” John­son’s “spir­i­tu­al descen­dants,” as Rolling Stone’s David Fricke calls his rock and roll prog­e­ny, have no trou­ble doing just that. Nor do fans of rock and blues and oth­er artists who find the Robert John­son leg­end tan­ta­liz­ing.

In the film above, “Hot Tamales,” ani­ma­tor Ric­car­do Maneglia adapts the myth, and quotes from “Cross­road Blues,” to tell the sto­ry of Bob, who jour­neys to the cross­roads to meet sin­is­ter voodoo deity Papa Leg, replay­ing John­son’s sup­posed ren­dezvous in a dif­fer­ent reli­gious con­text. In “Cross­road“ ‘s lyrics, John­son is actu­al­ly “plead­ing with God for mer­cy,” writes Frank DiGia­co­mo in Van­i­ty Fair, “not bar­gain­ing with the dev­il.” Nonetheless—legendary or not—his evo­ca­tion of dev­il­ish deals in “Me and the Dev­il Blues” and grit­ty, emo­tion­al account of self-destruc­tion in “Cross­roads” may on their own add suf­fi­cient weight to that far-reach­ing idea: “No Robert John­son, No Rock and Roll.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

B.B. King Explains in an Ani­mat­ed Video Whether You Need to Endure Hard­ship to Play the Blues

Kei­th Richards Wax­es Philo­soph­i­cal, Plays Live with His Idol, the Great Mud­dy Waters

Leg­endary Folk­lorist Alan Lomax: ‘The Land Where the Blues Began’

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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  • Allan Evans says:

    This myth is a baby-bot­tled ver­sion craft­ed for provin­cial sub­ur­ban­ites who need it to help them fath­om how a tal­ent­ed musi­cian devel­oped by lis­ten­ing to oth­ers and had no need to sell his soul. The tal­ent was there and need­ed lit­tle time to devel­op. Focus on this trashy fan­ta­sy keep peo­ple from explor­ing his influ­ences and how he used them. I’m sure had he lived longer, he would have moved to Chica­go and plugged his axe into an amp.

  • Scott Barretta says:

    There’s no evi­dence that John­son ever talked about hav­ing made a deal with the dev­il to peo­ple he knew — Hon­ey­boy Edwards, John­ny Shines and Robert Lock­wood, who all played with him, said that they nev­er heard any­thing like this from him.

    And he was hard­ly “already a leg­end” — he was some­one who was admired by local audi­ences and whose record­ings sold rel­a­tive­ly mod­est­ly (the biggest sell­er was 10,000). The “leg­end” was large­ly the con­coc­tion of white fans, start­ing with John Ham­mond, who tried to get John­son to per­form at his Spir­i­tu­als to Swing con­cert in NYC, only to dis­cov­er that he had died.

  • Crystal says:

    Dear Mr. Jones! Your arti­cle glar­ing­ly inac­cu­rate!

    First of all, you should do a lit­tle more research when refer­ring to reli­gious deities. “meet sin­is­ter voodoo deity Papa Leg” It’s actu­al­ly Papa Leg­ba and he is not exact­ly con­sid­ered sin­is­ter. A trick­ster yes, but sin­is­ter no.

    Sec­ond, the video is a bla­tant copy cat of scenes from “Angel Heart” which is a fic­tion­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Hol­ly­wood Voodoo and has­n’t not a sin­gle drop of truth to it.

    Final­ly, Vodou (as it is cor­rect­ly spelled) does­n’t even have a Dev­il in it’s ranks so how can Vodou even relate to Mr. John­son’s blues leg­end?

    It’s mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion like this that gives a very true and thriv­ing Reli­gion a bad name.

  • Tre' Chicago Bluesman says:

    The thing about Robert John­son is he had real tal­ent but he was sti­fled by his con­tem­po­raries who he admired and at that time most of the tal­ent in his area was based on how tal­ent­ed the one he viewed and admired had at that time

    So if what you see around you is all you have to go on then your ideas remain the same as what you see and what you get every time you see it noth­ing changes

    it does­n’t take much tal­ent to make peo­ple want to go see some­body per­form even if it is real­ly good or not

    after a while the deci­sion is based on what else do these peo­ple have to do

    at that time not much was avail­able to be offered

    if it was­n’t a tap dance show or a few guys and gals hoof­ing around it was some­body play­ing on some instru­ment some­where some­how some­way no mat­ter the exper­tise or the great­ness.

    Robert’s for­tune came when some how he ven­tured to a place where things were very dif­fer­ent maybe he got a ride or hitched a train no mat­ter he came to this place and the place was Chica­go and he wound up on the south side of Chica­go this is where the miss­ing rec­ol­lec­tion of where Robert John­son dis­ap­peared to came into his­to­ry but no one can answer the ques­tion

    in my research I have found out it was Tru­ly a trip to Chica­go not only did Robert see the dif­fer­ence in the cul­ture of his own trans­plant­ed peo­pled but he wit­nessed a total change in there demeanor, dress and action every­thing was faster and more defined espe­cial­ly the music and the swing of it

    he began to learn quick­ly the swag­ger and col­lec­tion of being so Kool and clever in the place­ment of per­for­mance and sto­ry­telling and cre­ativ­i­ty of song that when got back to the rur­al south peo­ple were astound­ed

    and they fig­ured the mag­ic had to come from some­where and in that time peo­ple con­tributed his mas­ter mim­ic­ry and amaz­ing tal­ent to trans­fer what he learned into a spir­it­ed descrip­tion of play­ing like the dev­il

    they said when he played he could poss­es any­one near him with his new found mag­ic in his vocal and gui­tar abil­i­ties.

    This kind of dev­il­ry still goes on today espe­cial­ly here in Chica­go and I can prove it.

    I am a blues­man I have seen this hap­pen over and over again I have seen peo­ple espe­cial­ly for­eign­ers white, Chi­nese, Japan­ese, Ger­man ect ect ect male and female these peo­ple come to Chica­go time and time again to see and learn what has already been estab­lished as the best blues through­out in the world we teach we train we are the cham­pi­ons

    This is the Mec­ca we taught the Rolling Stones, Elvis, Eric Clap­ton, ect ect ect The dev­il is in the design Robert John­son was blessed with a gift to be all that he can be enlist­ing in the ser­vices of the Chica­go Blues army of trained vet­er­ans.

    as evll as the oth­er thing about his death the jeal­ous hus­band tried to poi­son him by plac­ing dush pow­der in his drink he got real sick and start­ed throw­ing up and howl­ing like a wolf this is an old adage to help over­come a lot of things like being drunk and oth­er ail­ments he stood up and stag­gered out the door of the estab­lish­ment and made a state­ment I’ll be back Moth­er Fu**er and I’m bring­ing the Dev­il with me You is a dead man the jeal­ous hus­band was also the own­er of the bar he and some oth­ers men fol­lowed Robert down the road to put an end to his Mag­ic they were on a mis­sion to kill him so grabbed him and began to fight him Robert was strong and he could fight he used his gui­tar to dimin­ish the men so they tried to stab him with pock­et knives they were not so suc­cess­ful Robert ran from the men and got home where he fell down on his bed and was try­ing to retrieve his pis­tol the men came into his home and shot him to death this was the end of Robert John­son he was buried two time once in his the near­by town where was killed but peo­ple was so super­sti­tious they mover his body to his home town and buried him there all adding to the mys­tery and mag­ic of a man who’s tal­ent, lifestyle and leg­end was attrib­uted to his friend­ship with the Dev­il but in real­i­ty his gift was gift from God.

    Tre’ Face­book Blues­man Tre

  • Fabrice Ziolkowski says:

    I’m so fed up with this pro­to-Faus­t­ian non­sense pro­mot­ed by white fans. Robert John­son would have had to be one big fool to make a deal with the Dev­il in which he died pen­ni­less at 27. If any­one has made a deal with the Dev­il, it’s Mick Jag­ger who is still pranc­ing around at 73, rak­ing in mil­lions and has led a very “sat­is­fied” exis­tence. When he dies, we know where he’ll end up.

  • jc vitte says:

    Robert John­son lis­tened to the ones who came before him, same as every great play­er, devised his own style, and became a accom­plished enter­tain­er, and a reg­u­lar in that area. How big a “star” he was in his own time has to be tem­pered by the era, and the rar­i­ty of orga­nized enter­tain­ment to his audi­ences. His expo­sure to the “rest of the world” came at the same time as the blues genre’ was “exposed”. Appar­ent­ly, the tim­ing was right for his brand of enter­tain­ing, and he used and abused it, like so many before and since. Sad­ly, as the sto­ry goes, he messed with the wrong man’s wife, and that man end­ed his life. Its a great sto­ry, thank you for bring­ing the his­to­ry to light by retelling the tale.

  • gpk says:

    There is no doc­u­ment­ed instance of any friend or con­tem­po­rary of Robert John­son claim­ing he sold his soul for his tal­ents. The sto­ry exists sole­ly in the writ­ings of white music crit­ics’ spec­u­lat­ing about mat­ters they did not research. Gayle Dean Ward­low, one of the major researchers of Delta blues, makes this clear in his book Chas­ing the Dev­il’s Music. Themes and sym­bols of good and evil run through the blues, just as they do through most of lit­er­a­ture. A bad­man image and provoca­tive lyrics were used to cre­ate com­mer­cial appeal, just as they are today. John­son was an artist who knew his audi­ence and loved his elders, and his play­ing clear­ly shows he loved his gui­tar. The real evi­dence of his life shows that the death of his wife in child­birth deeply griev­ed him, that he showed great deter­mi­na­tion in pur­su­ing music after­wards, was inter­est­ed in many kinds of music, women and trav­el. Some­one should make a movie about that man.

  • Chuck Weiss says:

    Haha, you nailed it sir!!! Necrophil­i­acs, shame shame!!! Just some more crack­pots re-writ­ing his­to­ry!!! Curse the millinials !!!!

  • Chuck Weiss says:

    Peo­ple have been try­ing to make this movie for about fifty years! Good luck!!!! He was a superb artist, one of a kind, but hard­ly an inno­va­tor! He did not invent Rock and Roll! It was there before him and hope­ful­ly you will do the research for your next attempt to change his­to­ry!!!

  • Dave Dick says:

    One impor­tant fact..of which there are very, very few con­cern­ing Robert Johnson…that seems to be missed by all the com­ments here is that he actu­al­ly wrote and record­ed a song called “Crossroads”..thats where this leg­end has come from, or at least his part in it.

    If those that played with him say he did­nt men­tion it, then its pret­ty unlike­ly he even used it as a sales tech­nique [unlike say Peatie Wheat­straw, who billed him­self as “The Dev­ils Son In Law”]..

    So ..all made it by oth­ers well after his death…

    I find all these ref­er­ences to “mid­dle class white musi­cians and review­ers say­ing such and such ” to be incred­i­bly divi­sive and back­ward look­ing. By this point we should be recog­nis­ing the genius of his play­ing and singing, which by a mir­a­cle of tim­ing [record­ing tech­niques] we can still hear today.…he was a remark­able artist …any of you folks ever tried to play and sing like him?.….

  • Jesse David says:

    Wow…you peo­ple think you know some­thing don’t you. I too once knew not what is. In today’s age of dis­be­lief the dev­il has con­vinced the world that he does not real­ly exist. You are by no means “fools” but mere­ly with­out expe­ri­ence of what is. Who can speak in author­i­ty of what he has not seen? 3 years ago I saw and heard. I said NO. No to what? you think. Unless you expe­ri­ence it you would nev­er ever believe. I would laugh in your face if you told me what I have seen and heard 3 years ago. I do not speak of it…I can not.
    The world scoffs at what they can not under­stand. I too used to laugh and thought the super­nat­ur­al was folk­lore.
    Yay yay yay …I hear your igno­rant snick­ers. I was you…right with you 3 years ago. I cer­tain­ly do not claim to know ANYTHING of Robert John­sons sto­ry. I have a the­o­ry and may be cor­rect but maybe not. If Robert did indeed do this “deal” I believe he real­ized the scope of his error and tried to back­out. “Eter­ni­ty is a long time” as I heard it. Snoop dog sings a song and the world sings along nev­er ever think­ing it could be of any real­i­ty. (Snoop)A voice spoke to me say­ing. (dev­il) bow down to me I’ll make you bet­ter. (Snoop) How long will I live
    (dev­il) eter­nal life and for­ev­er
    (Snoop) will I be the G that I was
    (dev­il) I will make you a lot bet­ter than can imag­ine or dreamed of. So close your eyes let me take con­trol. Snoop says My eyes closed.
    But the dev­il speaks a line to Snoop I believe per­ti­nent to the pos­si­ble Robert J sto­ry. The dev­il says to Snoop. “When you starts that trip­pin’ ..that ass is mine”
    We will nev­er know Roberts real­i­ty but if true and I KNOW it can be com­plete and total real­i­ty. He cried out to JESUS for mer­cy and the dev­il said “Robert.
    .that ass is mine”
    Now of course non believers…as I “was”. Can in NO WAY ever pos­si­bly con­cieve this as real­i­ty. I get that. I do not expect you to believe me. I would­n’t have 3 years ago. But now.…well. Let’s just put it this way. If I could tap you on the head with a mag­ic wand and you saw what I saw and heard what I heard. You would drop to your knees in trem­bling fear and cry to God Almighty. Before Jesus showed up to me the dev­il paid me no mind. Why? Because before that time he ( dev­il) owned me. But now…I belong to Jesus. It’s all true folks. You know it’s fun­ny 3 years ago if I read what I just wrote I would have laughed and thought ” what a dum­b­ass” That’s true. But now I am the per­son I once laughed at. Maybe I will meet Robert J in heaven…who knows. I will be there.…
    .will you?
    Oh btw Lil miss voodoo in your com­ments. …you think you’re some kind of author­i­ty on spir­its? If you are speak­ing to spir­its NOT in Jesus name. .….you’re a damn fool. I chal­lenge you to this. The next time you speak to spir­its say to them ” I com­mand you in the name of Jesus Christ to tell me your name ” and then and ONLY then you will under­stand the true nature of your fool­ish­ness. You will be singing a dif­fer­ent tune. Be care­ful my friend “they” ” spir­its” are true trick­sters. Again I say 3 years ago I was a damn fool. I have seen with my own eyes what is from above.… and below. Eter­ni­ty is a long time.
    Be care­ful folks.…it’s all true.

  • Brad says:

    First off.. I am a believ­er. How­ev­er, I don’t feel Robert John­son sold his soul. He was clear­ly in love with the blues and put him­self in and around the blues. Son House par­tic­u­lar­ly. As Son House is quot­ed say­ing Robert John­son could­n’t play any­thing but awful rack­et then he van­ished for 8 months. When he returned he could­n’t be touched. Now he may very well have sold his soul.. or he could have prac­ticed his tail off or had an in the dark teacher. He was already deter­mined to play the blues and seemed pas­sion­ate about being the best. Peo­ple telling him he could­n’t for me was the kick start of his musi­cal desire. I’m sure John­son just put in the hard work and 8 months is a long time in terms of a per­son already famil­iar with the instru­ment learn­ing to real­ly play. Espe­cial­ly if their mind is right and focused on play­ing. It was­n’t as if just picked a gui­tar up that day and the next evening he was play­ing as well as any­one at that time.

  • Robert Murray says:

    The John­son Myth arose dur­ing the British Blues Boom and was gen­er­at­ed from the UK where there was at the time a grow­ing inter­est in the occult, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the self-appoint­ed mys­tic Aleis­ter Crow­ley, who held such fas­ci­na­tion for Jim­my Page. There was also the ten­den­cy of white cul­ture to impose a lit­er­ary form over myths that passed through oral tra­di­tions, hence the appli­ca­tion of the Faust sto­ry to explain the swift rise to fame of skin­ny white boys who had the temer­i­ty to play the blues (the usu­al sus­pects, but espe­cial­ly Led Zep).

    It is also a sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of what is a com­plex aspect of black cul­ture through the easy expla­na­tion of ‘satanism’. John­son was a tar­get for this myth-mak­ing because of the impor­tance of his music to young white musi­cians who were all too eager to sub­scribe to the myth them­selves, as they had lit­tle infor­ma­tion which would dis­abuse them of this poten­tial slur. Yet if we didn’t have the John­son Myth, would we have had bet­ter music?

  • Whatever says:

    I’m a lit­tle tak­en back how peo­ple are bash­ing the arti­cle on tech­ni­cal­i­ties.
    1) voodoo is satanism. Many parts of the world and in dif­fer­ent reli­gions every spir­i­tu­al being is either good and god­ly or it’s a decep­tion and bad.
    2) Robert was the guy that sold the sto­ry not some friends of his. In an inter­view he did Account he sold his soul to the voodoo reli­gion. That’s not god­ly admin­is­tra­tions right there.
    3) there’s a rea­son why peo­ple like jim­my page, John­ny depp, Bowie, and oth­er famous musi­cians that have ties to occult doc­trines was so fas­ci­nat­ed by this man.
    So light­en up on the oth­er he’s stat­ing what’s been said not say­ing every­thing is 100% fact.


    Every­one in music has sold their souls. Katy Per­ry just came out with the song and video “RISE” obvi­ous­ly talk­ing about Satan and his rise about the Last War that he is going to face Jesus and fight but obvi­ous­ly even he knows he is going to lose! For Satan a soul is like gold and bil­lions of dol­lars to us… He hates God and any­thing hav­ing to do with God. And God loves us so much that the ene­my hates us as peo­ple and only seeks to kill steal and destroy. Kar­dashi­ans, Kanye West, Bey­once, etc these are just the starters… there are so many oth­ers like Justin Bieber Tay­lor Swift. Peo­ple will do any­thing for fame and for­tune and its sad that peo­ple seek the mate­ri­al­is­tic and things of carnality(of the flesh) that obvi­ous­ly all come to an end and they even­tu­al­ly end up with NONE of it BURNING AND BEING TORMENTED IN HELL. Whilst God will come and save those who seek for­give­ness and repent and seek the Lord Jesus and not the things of this Earth. Worldy things and desires are all from the dev­il. Dont you know that the dol­lar bill has “In GOD we trust”, ALWAYS thought how can they write that on mon­ey and how can these peo­ple say they wor­ship God when they sell their souls… HAHA I real­ized that they mean GOD as in Satan because their GOD is Satan. DONT YOU KNOW THAT SATAN IS THE “GOD” OF THIS WORLD??????? But dont be fooled and dont buy into his lies because the dev­il is noth­ing but a liar DUH, he is no GOD and will nev­er be any­thing like our amaz­ing grace­ful and lov­ing Heav­en­ly Father God. Okay I’m done …

    GOD BLESS <3

  • Beata says:

    YESSSSS GET EM. ITS ALL TRUE . check out my com­ment by “EVERYONE SELLS THEIR SOUL” !!!! :)

  • Toad says:

    Eli­jah Wald, quot­ed in the arti­cle, has a com­ment on his web site that real­ly gets to where the Robert John­son sound comes from (in the quote, Wald is focused on his vocals, but the same sort of things apply to his gui­tar play­ing). Robert John­son came along rather late in the game for these acoustic Delta blues recordings–many now-leg­endary musi­cians had already issued lots of records that were sell­ing well, and Robert John­son has dis­tinct, obvi­ous ele­ments of many of those peo­ple’s sound.

    That does­n’t mean he was­n’t great–he was. But his sound did­n’t come from a flash of inspi­ra­tion out of the blue or the depths of hell, it came from the same place musi­cians are still get­ting their sound: lis­ten­ing to records and assim­i­lat­ing what he heard.

    Here’s the quote: “[Son] House was a major influ­ence on both John­son and Waters, but by the time John­son record­ed he was not try­ing to sound like House—an old­er play­er who had been unsuc­cess­ful on records—but rather like Leroy Carr, Casey Bill Wel­don, Koko­mo Arnold, Lon­nie John­son, and Peetie Wheat­straw, who were the big blues record­ing stars in the mid-1930s, and whose vocal styles he imi­tat­ed on most of his records. (For exam­ple, the ooh-well-well falset­to yodel he often used was imi­tat­ed from Wheat­straw and Wel­don.)”

  • md says:

    Robert John­son played into the myth of the cross­roads. He was a good self-pro­mot­er. How­ev­er, it was Tom­my John­son — no rela­tion to Robert — who claimed to have met the Eshu Leg­ba at the cross­roads. That Eshu Leg­ba, a trick­ster to the Yoru­ba peo­ple of mod­ern day Nigeria/Benin, tuned his gui­tar. He’d learned the sto­ry of Eshu Leg­ba from his grand­moth­er. Tom­my John­son went around telling peo­ple the he had fall­en to his knees at the cross­roads. Robert John­son made no claims, but he sang about the myth. Robert John­son knew what he was doing. The mys­tique was good for busi­ness.

  • hjkln says:

    LOP stands for lots of poo

  • Geoff says:

    That sounds very racist by you fab­rics.

  • Tamara J Milam says:

    I have sat on the Coca-Cola machine in Clarksdale,MS where Robert John­son made this idea. It was not Chica­go. Per­haps he car­ried out an sig­nif­i­cant action to estab­lish this idea. God rest with Robert John­son. No one has men­tioned in his ear­li­er years he was small w a trail­er frame. He was in fear of racism in areas he went to play & peo­ple often cheat­ed him his pay for his per­for­mances. The dev­il sto­ry was a scare tac­tic to keep peo­ple from harm­ing him. No more & no less. He went off to learn to play & sing his very best. I am cer­tain he was not sin­less, I am cer­tain there was hard drink, women & hero­ine. That was the Blues & cer­tain­ly Chica­go upholds this leg­endary rep­u­ta­tion just like the Hill­bil­ly lifts up they live in a hollar…someplace so rough over 1/2 The world would not know what to do in such conditions.You got to live it to tru­ly write it. I have put myself in such envi­ron­ments with my safe­ty net out­side of such bounds. 1st & for most that is a must because the game has nev­er changed in terms that the music world can real­ly swal­low an musi­cian up.

  • Tamara J Milam says:

    I have sat on the Coca-Cola machine in Clarksdale,MS where Robert John­son made this idea. It was not Chica­go. Per­haps he car­ried out an sig­nif­i­cant action to estab­lish this idea. God rest with Robert John­son. No one has men­tioned in his ear­li­er years he was small w a frail­er frame. He was in fear of racism in areas he went to play & peo­ple often cheat­ed him his pay for his per­for­mances. The dev­il sto­ry was a scare tac­tic to keep peo­ple from harm­ing him. No more & no less. He went off to learn to play & sing his very best. I am cer­tain he was not sin­less, I am cer­tain there was hard drink, women & hero­ine. That was the Blues & cer­tain­ly Chica­go upholds this leg­endary rep­u­ta­tion just like the Hill­bil­ly lifts up they live in a hollar…someplace so rough over 1/2 The world would not know what to do in such conditions.You got to live it to tru­ly write it. I have put myself in such envi­ron­ments with my safe­ty net out­side of such bounds. 1st & for most that is a must because the game has nev­er changed in terms that the music world can real­ly swal­low an musi­cian up.

  • Tamara J Milam says:

    I know who vis­it­ed Mr. John­son in his lat­est life but you have got to fig­ure that out for your­self. Mm Hmm

  • Stella W. says:

    Robert John­son, if you’re pay­ing atten­tion to his lyrics, prac­ticed Hoodoo, not Vodoun. He “did record a song called “Cross­roads,” but it is about hitch-hik­ing, not mag­ic. In oth­er songs he made it clear that he was famil­iar with and prac­ticed hoodoo: In “Hell­hound on My Trail” he men­tions Hot Foot Pow­der, in “Come On In My Kitchen” he refers to a wom­an’s nation sack, and in “Lit­tle Queen of Spades” he describes how his lover uses a mojo bag to gain good luck in gam­bling. But hoodoo is an entire sys­tem of belief and the rit­u­al where­by one learns skills at a cross­roads is only one of thou­sands of prac­tices that are part of the hoodoo tra­di­tion. Robert John­son worked hoodoo and believed in it, but he him­self appar­ent­ly did not claim that he used the cross­roads rit­u­al to gain mas­tery of the gui­tar.”

    (That whole page is worth a read. A lot of metic­u­lous research went into it.)

    And it could also be viewed metaphor­i­cal­ly. If you’ve ever made repeat­ed efforts to mas­ter some­thing, with no results until one day some­thing clicked, for what­ev­er rea­son, and it all sud­den­ly fell into place, you’ve “been to the cross­roads”.

  • Randy says:

    27 years old famous music ‚since record­ing we under­stand ‚last 100 years,some live to be 100 ‚coun­try music,grand old Opry Carter fam­i­ly ‚they too reli­gious ‚thank may may­belline Carter,will the cir­cle be unbroken,I believe that it’s how music has made society,have con­trol 27 years old ‚all the answers will be revealed ‚and have faith high­er pow­er is there I believe ‚my broth­er passed away young man ‚I took is ash­es through them in the riv­er ‚then took wood­en urn ‚filled it full of rocks screwed it shut,I gen­tly release it in to the Pacif­ic ocean 300 ft of a peer ‚mid­dle of night ‚see the stars,still water I felt is soul ‚and smelled ‚I knew in split sec­ond ‚he was there and I cried,and ‚hap­py at the same time ‚love ‚you’ll nev­er escape death but enjoy life too the fullest ‚I’m lucky to live this long ‚thank you

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