Robert Johnson (May 8, 1911 August 16, 1938) was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy and poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend, including the Faustian myththat he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads to achieve success. As an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, Johnson had little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime. It was only after the reissue of his recordings in 1961, on the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers, that his work reached a wider audience. Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Mississippi Delta blues style. He is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence; Eric Clapton has called Johnson "the most important blues singer that ever lived." Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence in its first induction ceremony, in 1986. In 2010, David Fricke ranked Johnson fifth in Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
Rising above the intersection of U.S. Highways' 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Miss., on Jan. 28, 2002, is a blues sculpture that marks the spot where legend has it Robert Johnson traded his soul to the devil for his blues talent. Efforts are underway to make Clarksdale a mini destination spot which could attract tourists worldwide on a regular basis. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
The junction of Highway 61 and Highway 49 in Clarkdale, Mississippi marks the crossroads, the place as legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for mastery of the guitar.. (Photographs by Eric Althoff/The Washington Times)
In a Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010 photo, Capt. Robert Johnson, right, talks with Lloyd Greer, left, who investigated a plot to kill Johnson, at the Lee Correctional Institution, in Bishopville, S.C. where Johnson was in charge of preventing contraband from entering the prison. Johnson was was nearly killed at his home in an attack planned with an inmate's smuggled cell phone. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick) (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)