{I guess you could say that this Wonder was..} That's where the legend of Robert Johnson and the crossroads begins. Directed by Brian Oakes. For about six months, the Mississippi Delta was free from the racket of Robert Johnson's music. Thanks for sharing this was a really cool and amazing article. He died on Aug. 16, 1938 under some awful circumstances. "Cross Road Blues" (also known as "Crossroads") is a blues song written and recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. Son House, a talented Blues musician, once told Johnson, "Put that guitar down [...] you drivin' people nuts!". Tales of Faustian pacts are nothing new. The origin of the legend of Johnson's pact with the Devil is to be found in the fact that the aspiring musician somehow managed to transform himself from being "embarrassingly bad" at the guitar into a blues master in such a short period. We love the story of Robert Johnson! According to udiscovermusic, Johnson's first experience of playing the guitar was learning the basics from his brother as a small child living with his family in Memphis. Though he was little known in his own lifetime, his music began to be rediscovered in the 1960s, according to Biography, thanks to the re-release of a selection of his recordings on the album The King of the Delta Blues Singers, which fell into the hands of a new generation of musicians. Want to add a little wonder to your website? Robert Johnson’s Grave . The New World Encyclopedia lists such disparate possibilities as being poisoned by the jealous husband of one of his lovers, being shot and/or stabbed (according to Son House), and death from syphilis. ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads is a 2019 documentary film about Robert Johnson, the blues singer, songwriter and musician. We go in search of the REAL Devil's Crossroads from the famed Urban Legend where legendary Blues musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil. However, Johnson did become a great Blues singer. This is so cool I never knew about Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson recorded “Crossroads Blues” in 1936, and it shows the amazing interplay between his guitar and voice: The guitar swooping in and around his vocals. In fact, when Johnson played, people swore they heard TWO guitars. 2014–2020 © National Center for Families Learning, http://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-happened-to-robert-johnson-at-the-crossroads, © National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). He could sing, write music, and even play the guitar! Have you ever heard the legend of Robert Johnson? He started playing music when he was young, but his early music impressed no one. Are you ready to learn more about the true story of Robert Johnson? Interested in sharing Wonderopolis® every day? Robert Johnson begged the Devil to make him a … Almost everything in Johnson's biography is up for dispute: the date of his birth, the exact date and manner of his death, and, most famously, the way he became a master of the blues guitar. Among them was Bob Dylan, who wrote that Johnson's "words made my nerves quiver like piano wires." What killed him? Now On Netflix: ‘ReMastered’ Focuses On Robert Johnson April 26, 2019 Premiering today on Netflix, ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads takes a look at the legend of Robert Johnson, with Keith Richards, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’ and Bonnie Raitt, among others, … This was one of the best articles I’ve ever read I loves wonderopolis!!!!! In accordance with this tale, Robert Johnson was reported to have disappeared for several weeks, returning as one of the most legendary and inspirational blues musicians to have graced the genre. The man stands up, tall, barrel-chested, and black as the forever-closed eyes of Robert Johnson’s stillborn baby, and walks out to the middle of the crossroads where Robert Johnson kneels. But what was it about Robert Johnson that made him such a suitable receptacle for this most seductive legend? The solo Eric Clapton played on that song may be … He was murdered by a jealous husband. We know many legends about real people! The Devil promised to make Robert Johnson the greatest Blues musician in the world in return for Johnson's soul. Most people assume that this part of the story is fabricated. Be sure to check out the following activities with a friend or family member! The legend says he stood at the crossroads for a long time. Multiple new books and films dissect and theorize about the myth and the reality behind it. In the 1930s and the Deep South legend has it that Robert Johnson, the King of the Delta Blues and the very first rock star, sold his soul. Those who believe the legend say the man in black was the Devil. No one ever saw the second guitarist, leading many to believe the Devil himself was playing alongside Johnson. Carson Wonders, “What is a riff in music?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Carson! Others believed Johnson was somehow able to make his one guitar sound like two. That’s not quite what happened, of course, but every legendary figure needs some lore. The crossroads of Robert Johnson’s time was rural and dirt - no more. The archetype of desperate people making deals with the Devil is common in legends. However, there is no escaping the Devil’s trickery as he always wins in the end. It was Son House (pictured above) — whose talent the young Johnson "coveted," according to Open Culture – who has been one of the most prominent proponents of the Faustian legend. Indeed, it is this point that many believe has made the legend of his pact with the devil stick around as long as it has. You’ve matched all of the definitions correctly. We did it! As for Johnson himself, he sang that he "went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees," possibly lending some truth to the legend. Something that distinguished him from the other great blues players of the day was his ability to incorporate different styles of music into his own expression. The Devil agreed, on one condition. Tell everybody about Wonderopolis and its wonders. Unfortunately he died shortly after recording these songs at the young age of 27. With that, Robert Johnson headed North to Rosedale and sealed his contract with The Devil. He was the founder of rock ‘n’ roll. the weirdest part is that a slave rose up and became a blues musician. How about the famous song by a man named Robert Johnson? People say Robert Johnson went out one night to the crossroads of two highways in the Mississippi Delta. Robert Johnson was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta and began playing guitar in the 1920's. Robert Johnson, to be blunt, absolutely sucked at guitar but wanted badly to be an awesome blues guitarist. Others would say Robert Johnson never went to the crossroads at all. There are people in Mississippi who would tell you he traded his soul to become a great Blues singer. Robert Johnson grew up in Memphis and learned the basics of the guitar from a brother. However, Robert Johnson did not put the guitar down. Write a short summary of the legend and try to identify which parts of the story could be true and which parts are fictional. Those who believe the legend say the man in black was the Devil. At the age of 27 Robert Johnson was poisoned by the owner of a juke joint he had been playing. The New World Encyclopedia also lists such big names as Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton among those Johnson influenced. In the end, Johnson wrote 29 hit songs within 1931 and 1937. Robert Johnson began playing music when he was young, but he wasn’t good at it. Have you ever heard of the famous Crossroads where Highway 49 and 61 intersect? A hefty chunk of Robert Johnson’s music was never recorded; many more of his songs were only heard by patrons of some long forgotten juke joint in the Delta countryside. T here is no way for the world to know exactly what happened during Robert Johnson’s trip to the crossroads. It is a paved intersection and you have to brave traffic to get there. Some 20th-century blues songs, such as Sold It to the Devil by Black Spider Dumpling (John D. Twitty), may be about making a deal with the devil at the crossroads. What happened to Robert Johnson at the crossroads? Often, these details come from the storytellers' spiritual or religious beliefs. No one was sure where he was. Perhaps we will never know for sure! In 1938, a music scout in New York listened to Robert Johnson's music and invited him to play a big concert in Carnegie Hall. And why does his story endure, like his music, almost a century later? Yes! Then one day, Johnson disappeared. So sings the Delta blues musician Robert Johnson in his characteristically ethereal tone on "Cross Road Blues," one of only 29 songs that the mysterious figure recorded in his short lifetime. "Standin' at the crossroad, baby, risin' sun goin' down / I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin' down." He spent the rest of his life playing music. Premise. But according to those who knew Johnson, guitar did not come to him easily. Robert was left in his room alone where he suffered for three days. However, we do know that Robert Johnson never gave up on his music, even when no one believed in him. anna for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic! We almost came at midnight on a full moon, but thought better of the idea. {DEVILISHLY MUSICAL!}. On August 16, 1938 Robert Johnson, the king of the Delta Blues died. Upon the devil’s arrival, the musician was offered a Faustian barter: supernatural musicianship for the musician’s soul. Legends are created when people retell stories and add details to them that aren't true. Johnson recorded just two sessions' worth of material, in 1936 and 1937, before dying in 1938 at age 27. Thanks for your patience. We are undergoing some spring clearing site maintenance and need to temporarily disable the commenting feature. Johnson lived in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1900s. Researching blues and guitar music brings famed Robert Johnson's mythically creative acclaim to his attention; especially intriguing are the legends surrounding exactly how Johnson became so talented – most notably the one claiming he "sold his soul to the Devil at the crossroads", as well as a famed "missing song" that was lost, supposedly evermore, to the world. At exactly midnight, a large man dressed in black appeared. He kept practicing, but no matter how hard he tried, he didn't seem to improve. Myths aside, Robert Johnson stood out for his complex personality and his technique. Biography tells us how House recalled Johnson disappearing in Clarksdale, Mississippi, close to the now legendary crossroads at Highways 49 and 61, for "a few weeks," before re-emerging in public with his signature blues guitar style. We hope you have a strong connection to tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day! It's at the intersection of Highways 1 & 8 in Rosedale, Mississippi, USA. Robert had been messing around with the owner's wife. A shadowy figure, hearing his plight instructed him to go, guitar in hand to the Dockery Plantation Crossroads at midnight on a moonless night. Studio portrait of Robert Johnson. With Robert Johnson, Terry Harmonica Bean, Rory Block, Yvonne Chireau. His influence on contemporaries was much smaller, in part because he was an itinerant performer—playing mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances—who worked in a then undervalued style of music. Thankfully (or not), this version of the story also has a creepy edge; Conforth states that Johnson often took lessons from Zimmerman in local cemeteries, practicing atop the tombstones, where they wouldn't be disturbed. Like most legends, the story of Robert Johnson began with a real person. i loves wonderopilis, THIS ARTICLE IS SO COOL! We've been talking about these figures for so long that they are now legends! He was only 27. anna for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic! He also died young after recording only a handful of songs. What Happened With Robert Johnson And The Crossroads. He says, “Stand up, Robert Johnson. Help spread the wonder of families learning together. How about Mulan or John Henry? Researcher Bruce Conforth has identified Johnson's guitar teacher: blues musician Ike Zimmerman. 'Get that guitar away from that boy,' people would say.". If you recognize any of these names, you probably know they were all real people. House recalled: "He blew a harmonica and he was pretty good with that, but he wanted to play guitar ... such a racket you never heard! The legend says he stood at the crossroads for a long time. A great place to start is with his. Johnson, though well-traveled and admired in his performances, was little noted in hi… It was released on April 26, 2019 on Netflix streaming. He was carried back to his hotel room in dire need of medical attention. This was the tone of Johnson’s life, one of mystery and loss, and in his own time he would be outright forgotten. With little thought, Robert Johnson agreed. Those who witnessed the phenomenon could only explain it by supernatural interference. Legend has it that Johnson took his guitar to the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in … Be the first to know! After relocating to the Mississippi Delta, Johnson's interest in music was noticed by blues legend Son House, who would become the young musician's hero. Robert Johnson surprised everyone when he suddenly became a very talented musician. As a young man, he married his sweetheart, Virginia, who died in childbirth with their baby. Quick Facts Name Robert Johnson Birth Date May 8, 1911 Death Date August 16, 1938 Did You Know? Today he is recognized as one of the most important innovators of the Delta blues. That classic Robert Johnson Crossroads location, where he died. CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.9, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1. What Really Happened at the Crossroads Robert Johnson had a tough life. well, i told blues fans and musicians, that were even only slightly familiar with the name robert johnson, that the devil subject on crossroad blues is pure monkey junk, that satisfies the strange craving for myths and storytelling. We bet you know the stories of Johnny Appleseed and Pocahontas. The Blues has it's roots in spirituals, so it really isn't that much of a stretch. IT WAS TOMMY JOHNSON, NOT ROBERT JOHNSON The crossroads ritual is currently best known in popular American culture through the recent acceptance of a spurious legend that the famous 1930s blues singer Robert Johnson claimed that he had learned how to play guitar by selling his soul to the devilat the crossroads, somewhere in Mississippi. He was moved from house to house as a boy and abused by his stepfather. That's where the legend of Robert Johnson and the crossroads begins. Tales of Faustian pacts are nothing new. Standards: He’d drank whisky laced … Johnson died the following year in Greenwood, Mississippi, supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband of one of his mistresses. The legend of Robert Johnson is one of the founding myths of both Delta Blues and Rock and Roll. Johnson has had enormous impact on music and musicians, but outside his own time and place and even the genre for which he was famous. What really happened to Robert Johnson at the crossroads? Robert Johnson drops to his knees and says, “Maybe not.”. Nothing about it sounds strange, just unfortunate, and I’m sure we will be able to dig up more stories like this one. At this time in the south, no white doctor would see a black patient, and no black doctors would see Robert because of the crossroads rumor. The quality of Robert Johnson's blues performances — those few that were recorded — has never been up for debate. When Robert Johnson reappeared in the Mississippi Delta music scene, he was a talented Blues musician. You have answered 0 of 3 questions correctly and your score is: Subscribe to Wonderopolis and receive A look at the short, mysterious life of blues legend, Robert Johnson, who was said to have made a deal with the Devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi. Many modern listeners believe that the premier song about soul-selling at a crossroads is "Cross Road Blues" by Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson went on to become The King of the Delta blues and spawned a new sound called Rock n' Roll. At exactly midnight, a large man dressed in black appeared. Courtland Bresner CC BY-SA 3.0. Many fascinating legends surround his music and history, the most prominent being his encounter with the Devil at the "crossroads." Audiences would look around, searching for the second guitarist. To cut a long story short, Robert Johnson recorded several hit blues songs in the late 1930’s, which made him something of a legend. We sent you SMS, for complete subscription please reply. How much of the legend of Robert Johnson is true? As The Guardian points out, the same legend was attached to the Italian master violinist Niccolo Paginini in the early 19th century, and was even told about one of Johnson's blues contemporaries, Thomas Johnson (no relation), who died in 1956 at the age of 60. In the 1986 film Crossroads, a fictional film based loosely on Robert Johnson and Tommy Johnson's stories, the guitar-playing hero plays a Niccolo Paganini song on the electric guitar during a musical showdown with one of his competitors. Lyrics such as these have helped create one of the most enduring legends in the world of popular music. People say Robert Johnson went out one night to the crossroads of two highways in the Mississippi Delta. Recent academics have come up with a more realistic explanation for his steep musical development: sheer practice. Unfortunately, by the time the invitation reached Mississippi, Robert Johnson had passed away. ARTS & CULTURE — Music. the Wonder of the Day® via email or SMS. Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil to become a great Blues musician. Today, we know him as one of the greatest Blues musicians of all time. We think the history of music is fascinating! Who was playing with him? Don’t miss our special deals, gifts and promotions. Robert Johnson passed away when he was 27 years old. For the legend is that Johnson entered into a Faustian pact: that his great ability as a guitarist and vocalist was down to Johnson selling his soul to the devil, a deal which took place at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in Mississippi, according to how the legend is recounted by Biography. Wow the devil is in this wonder he’s fake by the way ‍♂️, https://www.npr.org/2011/05/07/136063911/robert-johnson-at-100-still-dispelling-myths, https://www.biography.com/people/robert-johnson-9356324, https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/devils-music-myth-robert-johnson/, a low triangular area where a river divides before entering a larger body of water, a repeated symbol or pattern in literature, art, or mythology, a story about mythical or supernatural beings or events, based on or told of in traditional stories; lacking factual basis or historical validity, a type of folksong that originated among Black Americans at the beginning of the 20th century; has a melancholy sound from repeated use of blue notes, an explorer, often with the goal of finding something or somebody. fact is, that robert johnson feared to get busted by the highway patrol, cause blacks were forced off the road after sundown. Stop fitting lets agree this wonder is awsome!!!!!!!!! A legend is a story that starts out as true but then takes on mythical traits. Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Carson from Columbus, OH. And everyone knows the great live version of “Down To The Crossroads,” a variation on the Robert Johnson song of a similar name that Cream recorded and released on their live disc of the Wheels of Fire album. In a cruel irony, the fame he so sought, in the end, was what killed him. Ask an adult friend or family member if they know any legends that they can share with you! Robert Johnson begged the Devil to make him a talented musician. For the legend is that Johnson entered into a Faustian pact: that his great ability as a guitarist and vocalist was down to Johnson selling his soul to the devil, a deal which took place at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in Mississippi, according to how the legend is recounted by Biography. Deals, gifts and promotions 8, 1911 Death Date August 16, 1938 did you know the of! 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