On the trail of the real Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson book
(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

One of the problems we encounter around Robert Johnson’s history is that so little is known about the man himself. We know he was born in 1911 and that he died at the age of 27 in 1938.

A virtuoso guitarist and singer – someone who Eric Clapton refers to as “the most important blues singer who ever lived” – he was recorded only twice: once in San Antonio in 1936 and again in Dallas a year later. Both sessions resulted in a total of 29 songs that have gone on to influence generation upon generation of blues guitarists and singers ever since.

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David Mead

With over 30 years’ experience writing for guitar magazines, including at one time occupying the role of editor for Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, David is also the best-selling author of a number of guitar books for Sanctuary Publishing, Music Sales, Mel Bay and Hal Leonard. As a player he has performed with blues sax legend Dick Heckstall-Smith, played rock ’n’ roll in Marty Wilde’s band, duetted with Martin Taylor and taken part in charity gigs backing Gary Moore, Bernie Marsden and Robbie McIntosh, among others. An avid composer of acoustic guitar instrumentals, he has released two acclaimed albums, Nocturnal and Arboretum.