Robert Johnson And The Prince Of Darkness – Selling His Soul At The Crossroads

By Divya G

When he aspired to become a Blues musician, Robert Johnson was only 19. While hanging out at a juke joint in Robbinsville, Mississippi, in 1930, he spotted Delta Blues performing. Legends Willie Brown and Son House were playing in front of a packed house.

So Johnson daringly picked up one musician’ guitar to play something of his own. But sadly, the crowd wasn’t giving much importance and not enjoying it. House recalls in a documentary that when Johnson started playing, he was simply making noise. And then some people came out to make Johnson go down the stage.

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Club owners almost tossed him out of the juke joint; since then, he was never heard of. He simply vanished from the Delta. But one night, when Brown and House were playing in another gig, they spotted Johnson with a guitar case.

Robert was in a completely different mood and took out his regular six-string guitar. He added an extra string to it, which was never witnessed by any famous musician before. Johnson acquired an unusual technique where he strummed a series of rapid-fire chords, making the guitar sound exactly like a piano.

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While everyone was stunned by his skills, Johnson made a deal with the devil. He was probably the first blues musician who honed his skills with guidance from the Prince of Darkness.

Johnson had a tough life. He was abused by his stepfather and lost the love of his life while giving birth to their baby. It is believed that one of Johnson’s mistresses’ husbands poisoned him to death at the age of 27. He remained obscure until his album “King of the Delta Blues Singers” was re-released in 1961.