Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vanity Fair's Frank Digiacomo reprises the legend of bluesman Robert Johnson: "In the seven decades since his mysterious death, bluesman Robert Johnson’s legend has grown—the tragically short life, the “crossroads” tale of supernatural talent, the genuine gift that inspired Dylan, Clapton, and other greats—but his image remains elusive: only two photos of Johnson have ever been seen by the public."

Digicomo follows up with a fascinating blog post: "Even if you’re not an avid fan of the blues, you’ve probably heard of the Johnson crossroads myth (where he supposedly sold his soul to devil for supernatural talent) or read that there are only two known photos of Johnson that have ever been seen by the public: a photo-booth self-portrait which depicts the bluesman with a cigarette cantilevered out of his mouth and a portrait of him in a hat and pin-striped suit taken by the Hooks Bros. studio in Memphis."

Big Road Blues asks for a time-out in the Johnsonophilia: "Unfortunately this obsession on every minutiae of Johnson’s life has taken away the focus on his very real talents and perhaps more importantly this lopsided focus on Johnson has obscured the fact that he was very much part of a tradition; his music firmly built on the artists who came before like Lonnie Johnson and Tampa Red who don’t get a shred of the acclaim that Johnson does."

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