Robert Johnson

Blues Musician
Born May 8, 1911

Robert Leroy Johnson was an American blues singer and musician. His landmark recordings from 1936–37 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend, including a Faustian myth.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Robert Johnson.


…  Carrie Thompson claimed that her mother, who was also Robert's mother, remembered his birth date as May 8, 1911. … Read More
1919 8 Years Old About 1919, Robert rejoined his mother in the Mississippi Delta area around Tunica and Robinsonville, Mississippi. … Read More
1920 9 Years Old In the 1920 census he is listed as Robert Spencer, living in Lucas, Arkansas, with Will and Julia Willis.


1924 13 Years Old Robert was at school in 1924 and 1927 and the quality of his signature on his marriage certificate suggests that he was relatively well educated for a boy of his background. … Read More
1929 18 Years Old After school, Robert adopted the surname of his natural father, signing himself as Robert Johnson on the certificate of his marriage to sixteen-year-old Virginia Travis in February 1929. … Read More


1931 20 Years Old 1 More Event
While living in Martinsville, Johnson fathered a child with Vergie Mae Smith. He married Caletta Craft in May 1931. … Read More
1932 21 Years Old From 1932 until his death in 1938, Johnson moved frequently between large cities like Memphis, Tennessee, and Helena, Arkansas, and the smaller towns of the Mississippi Delta and neighboring regions of Mississippi and Arkansas. … Read More
1933 22 Years Old Fellow musician Shines was 17 when he met Johnson in 1933. … Read More
1935 24 Years Old Some scholars have argued that the devil in these songs may refer not only to the Christian figure of Satan but also to the African trickster god Legba, himself associated with crossroads. Folklorist Harry M. Hyatt wrote that, during his research in the South from 1935–1939, when African-Americans born in the 19th or early-20th century said they or anyone else had "sold their soul to the devil at the crossroads," they had a different meaning in mind. … Read More
…  His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. … Read More
1937 26 Years Old In 1937, Johnson traveled to Dallas, Texas, for another recording session with Don Law in a makeshift studio at the Vitagraph (Warner Brothers) Building, at 508 Park Avenue, where Brunswick Record Corporation was located on the third floor. … Read More
1938 27 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1938, Columbia Records producer John H. Hammond, who owned some of Johnson's records, had record producer Don Law seek out Johnson to book him for the first "From Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. … Read More
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