Remembering Robert Johnson

08/16/2011
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(Gibson) On this day in 1938, American blues musician Robert Johnson died at the age of 27. His recordings from 1936-37 influenced generations of musicians including Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Gibson looks back: Blues legend, Gibson guitar player and mythical musical figure Robert Johnson was only 27 when he died. Having already made a slew of recordings ("Love in Vain Blues," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Cross Road Blues") that would go on to influence blues and rock players for decades to come, Johnson passed away on this day in 1938.

And the day is the only thing that anybody knows for sure when it comes to the death of Robert Johnson. The blues guitarist died somewhere near Greenwood, Mississippi. It has been said that, in the weeks before he died, Johnson had been playing at a country dance in a town about 15 miles from Greenwood. When it comes to the events that led to his demise, there are more than a few different stories out there.

One tale says that Robert had been hitting on a woman at these dances and that the female in question turned out to be the wife of the juke joint's owner. In one version of the story, she gave Johnson a bottle of whiskey that unbeknownst to her had been spiked with poison by her angry husband. In another version, she was the one who knowingly poisoned him. Still, in another story, she was not involved with the juke joint proprietor, and the bottle was poisoned by an unknown murderer. more on this story

Gibson.com is an official news provider for the Day in Rock.

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