Early this mornin’
When you knocked upon my door
Early this mornin’, ooh
When you knocked upon my door
And I said, “Hello Satan,
I believe it’s time to go.”
“Me And The Devil Blues” – ROBERT JOHNSON

What would you give to have it all? By all, I mean money, power, fame, looks…anything your heart longed for and desired.Would you lie? Steal? Kill?

Sell your soul?

Back in the thirties, during the era of the great Depression, times were extremely hard for Americans but African-Americans were hit the hardest. It is understandable how a man such as, Robert Johnson, in his mid 20’s, would be persuaded into traded his most valuable possession, in exchange for one thing…

Become one of the greatest blues players that ever lived.

Only one thing stood in his way…he couldn’t play the guitar for the life of him! According to fellow blues musician, Son House, who knew Robert when he was a boy said that he had decent harmonica skills but was horrible on guitar.

Even after years of practice, Robert Johnson’s skills were nowhere to be found until one day in 1935, when he up and left his hometown of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, in pursuit of something or someone who could turn his life around. I’ve tried to find information on him but a lot of his life was poorly documented.

What is known is that at the age of 17, he married his soul mate, whom he loved so very dearly. There love was short-lived when she died during labor, one year after their wedding. From that moment on, he focused on music and traveling as much as possible, doing shows, just to keep his mind occupied.

At the same time, he cursed and blamed God for the death of his wife. The legend goes, that when he left Hazlehurst, he ventured to an intersection between two crossroads, 61 and 49. It is there that Robert, with his guitar, was approached by the, Devil, who gave him the ability to play the, Blues!

According to Tommy Johnson, another Blues singer of no relation, known for his eerie falsetto,  had this to say about the infamous crossroads, years before Robert Johnson:

“If you want to learn how to make songs yourself, you take your guitar and you go to where the road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Be sure to get there just a little ‘fore 12 that night so he know you’ll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece there by yourself … A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar and he’ll tune it. And then he’ll play a piece and hand it back to you. That’s the way I learned to play anything I want. “-

When Robert returned to Mississippi, six months later, after his alleged meeting with the devil he played his perfectly tuned guitar for Sonny House. When Sonny heard Robert play, he was blown away and completely baffled at the drastic change in Robert’s skills. He wasn’t just good…he was AMAZING.

Between 1936-37, Robert recorded a bunch songs that would only be appreciated and earn him the status of a “Blues Legend” many years after his mysterious death.  Some say it was poison that killed him, others say it was Devil collecting his dues. Kind of reminds of me of artists today who screw themselves over signing bad contracts that are almost equal to selling your soul to the devil. Robert was angry at God and wanted it so bad , he didn’t even bother to read the fine print.

Now, he is considered a legend by many rock stars. That being said, each rock star who performed a version of Robert Johnson’s, “Crossroads”, fell upon great tragedy. Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band, have all experienced the loss of group members or family members. Could the music be cursed as a result of Johnson’s pact with the Devil? He wanted to be great and that he was.

Listed below is the infamous song…and listen at your own risk.

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