Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ROBERT JOHNSON- Fathering The Formula of Rock Music: "Terraplane Blues", "They're Red Hot", "Cross Road Blues", "Hellhound On My Trail", "Sweet Home Chicago" & "Me And The Devil Blues" ... (BLACK HISTORY/ HARMON LOFT PT.12)

Image result for robert johnson


This entry into the music/ arts honour roll society of this journal/ blog is to honour and showcase some of the music of Robert Johnson (wikipedia) of Hazlehurst, Mississippi. It will also serve as Part 12 of "Black History Month" with the "month" part left out of the title, since February is the official month for black history in US/ Canada (october in UK). It is also very importante to have Robert in the music/ arts series of this journal in particular as far as the classic and contemporary rock music of the 20th & 21st centuries ... I view Robert as fathering the rock genre roots ... I cant think of any of the classic rock greats who would not think similar. So many of the most well known greats of classic rock have covered and rewrote Robert Johnson songs, as sort of a homage too, for the influence he paved, some of those songs also became classic rock pieces, Eric Clapton himself done a whole series of Robert Johnson. When Brian Jones introduced Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) to the sounds of Robert Johnson ... Keith asked something like "... who's the other guy playing with him?" ... what Keith was hearing, was rhythm and lead guitars being played by one, it was unique as Robert's style, Keith seeing Robert as a one man type orchestra, and impressed also by Robert's stand out vocal abilities. Robert only made a small amount of recordings ... in 1936 he done some in a makeshift studio in a room at the historic Gunter Hotel in downtown San Antonio, Texas ... later in 1937, Robert went to record more at another makeshift studio in downtown Dallas ... but it was these recordings, that was the formula for the future of rock music.

Robert is known mostly as being in the Delta Blues category of music, and known for making a sort of other "voice" with the guitar ... which B.B. King later perfected (B.B. last video at bottom of post). Robert though, was also known in the day to play a very wide variety of music, so not just blues, it included folk, jazz and country as well ... or just whatever was popular at the time ... whether playing on a street corner for money, or playing at jook joints in the south, Robert would just play whatever people liked, period ... he was not fixed on one particular thing or style. At the same time, Robert never was very popular except in those small circles where he played and traveled. Many prominent black artists many years after Robert's death, didnt even know who Robert Johnson was ... it was actually young white artists that sought out and embraced his music most in the early 1960's ... Robert lived most of his life as a unknown ... and not making much money either, and back in them dayz, black artists didnt even get royalties or the recognition they should have. Those artists that embraced and rewrote, rearranged and brought so much atencion to Robert later ... were young white musicians and skiffle bands mostly out of the UK, and several American, who were blown away at such a young age when they heard some of the blues genres of music from black artists coming out of the southern United States, it inspired them big time. The early classic rock artists basically took those compositions, redone them with a sped up tempo, replacing acoustic guitar by incorporating heavily amplified progressive blues with solid body electric guitars, added intense percussion rhythms, etc ... for example, listen to the bluesy rock guitar work of Billy Gibbons or Angus Young today, great stuff too. With that inspiration came the British Invasion of rock music and the basic ingredients formula of what would become later hard rock and metal rock.

DEVIL IN DETAIL & MYTHS: All in all, despite all the stuff "these dayz" out there on Robert Johnson, much is speculation in my view, because of the mystery of sort about him, being the lack of history on him. I see Robert as a very influential figure in music, who was in his own way, just a simple man with a fairly decent education, that loved to travel around the country starting at a young age, no doubt loved to just have fun, live life to the fullest possible and play music ... and truly a romantic and rolling stone type, a lifestyle many of us could relate to. Robert may play some and walk away, and folks wouldnt see him again for weeks or months, or have any idea where he went or is, including fellow musicians. Much is told about these dayz even, of the story where Robert went to the crossroads in Mississippi where he met with the Devil, the Devil tuned Robert's guitar, played a couple pieces and gave the guitar back to Robert in exchange for Robert's soul, to give Robert fame, and the ability to be the major blues master and influence he is ... it's after that alleged meeting, that Robert started his recording sessions in Texas. I also credit much of this myth, to the reason why the "Devil" name is so strong in rock music actually ... and the part of selling your soul to gain success in that industry. Understand that back in Robert's time, especially in a place like Mississippi ... a state saturated in ghost stories and such (I also had the opportunity years back to play blues with blues artists in Mississippi), when you played any music, that was upbeat type music and made folks dance, or may not have had the usual christian gospel influence in it, it was looked at as music of the Devil by many folks ... christian fundamoralists still think that way to this day ... the talk about the Devil and Robert, like almost being one in the same is endless, especially today.

One reason this was widely believed in my view, is because Robert was said to be by Son House, a terrible guitar, but great harmonica player as a kid,  after this so called meeting/ arrangement ... months later he was tops in blues guitar. I credit much of his great guitar technique though, as Robert learning and mastering techniques of folks like Son House, Isaiah "Ike" Zimmerman (or Zinnerman spelling) and others ... nothing mystical or tricky. Because how Robert moved around and lack of history of such, this also led to much mystery as to his death, to even where he is exactly buried for that matter ... or which crossroads location he really went to ... much is speculation ... and a variety of stories, which has grown heavy over the years. It is also believed that a jealous man killed Robert by poisoning Robert's drink, because the man said Robert flirted with his woman ... the solid proof though is missing. Several pictures appear of him these dayz, but only 2- 3 at most been actually confirmed to be him, even some film footage (YouTube), where people think it was Robert. If you enjoy mystery or ghost stories that's fine ... but below are some of Robert's recordings, and this is the real deal ... and Thank You Sir, for the inspiration you gave to so many, which gave us the rock music we have today .... Enjoy!

Terraplane Blues [Remastered] ROBERT JOHNSON (1936) Delta Blues Guitar Legend ... Thanx to RagtimeDorianHenry

Robert Johnson- They're Red Hot ... Thanx to TravelerIntoTheBlue

Cross Road Blues- Robert Johnson (1936) ... Thanx to Nathaniel Jordon






Hellhound On My Trail [Remastered] ROBERT JOHNSON (1937) Delta Blues Guitar Legend ... Thanx to RagtimeDorianHenry

Robert Johnson "Sweet Home Chicago" ... Thanx to Michal Ico

Me And The Devil Blues [Remastered] ROBERT JOHNSON (1937) Delta Blues Guitar Legend ... Thanx to RagtimeDorianHenry


Image result for robert johnson photo year




No comments: