All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson Robert Johnson

“King of the Delta Blues Singers”

More than half a century after his death, Robert Johnson, the legendary Mississippi Delta blues singer, remains an enigma. A provocative and influential figure in the blues field, Johnson revealed his remarkable musical skills around the age of 20 in 1931. He completed only two recording sessions--one in 1936 and the other in 1937--prior to his untimely death in 1938. Very little was known about Johnson when his first album was released in 1961. By the time Columbia Records released “Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings” in 1990, slightly more information had come to light, but the mystery endures.

Like that of other early Delta blues singers, the music of Robert Johnson arose from an oral tradition that began with a mixture of field hollers, chants, fiddle tunes and religious music and ended up as the blues. The Mississippi Delta--two hundred miles of fertile lowlands stretching from Memphis, Tennessee in the north to Vicksburg, Mississippi in the south--was one of the primary locales in which the blues originated and developed. Johnson's sound is critically recognized as the culmination of the Delta blues tradition, as exemplified by other Delta blues artists such as Charley Patton, Son House, and Skip James. Typically, Delta blues are sung by a single artist playing an acoustic guitar, often using a bottleneck or similar instrument on the frets to achieve a distinctive sound. The next generation of musicians--and those who outlived Johnson--may have grown up in the Delta, but most left it as adults to go north and sing the city blues of Chicago. Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, two prominent Chicago bluesmen, have their roots in the Delta: both knew Robert Johnson and were heavily influenced by him.

Read more

Tags

Photos

Albums

Album Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol I & II by Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson: King...

Music On Vinyl
2014

buy
Album The Complete Recordings by Robert Johnson

The Complete...

Columbia Records
1990

buy

Similar

Howlin' Wolf Howlin' Wolf
voice / vocals
Van Morrison Van Morrison
voice / vocals
Albert King Albert King
guitar, electric
Son House Son House
guitar, slide
Mississippi John Hurt Mississippi John Hurt
guitar, acoustic
Ry Cooder Ry Cooder
guitar
Leadbelly Leadbelly
guitar, 12-string
Elmore James Elmore James
guitar, slide
J.B. Lenoir J.B. Lenoir
guitar
Bukka White Bukka White
guitar, slide
Blind Willie McTell Blind Willie McTell
guitar, 12-string
Skip James Skip James
guitar, acoustic

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.