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Black History Month: Robert Johnson, Master of the Blues

In 1997, Joel and Ethan Coen began development on a movie titled O, Brother Where Art Thou. The film follows the journey of 3 men as they escape prison and attempt to reclaim their lives. As they travel back home, they run into a slew of characters that help them along their way. One of the people they meet quickly becomes a friend and an ally to the group. This character’s name was Tommy Johnson.

Tommy Johnson was a fictional movie character based off of a man with the same name. In the film, Tommy’s character claims that he sold his soul to the devil in order to play the guitar. While this story in the movie is fictional, the story of selling your soul to the devil is anything but fictional. 

Black History Month: Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson, a pioneer of blues and jazz guitar, claimed that he sold his soul to the devil for a musical gift. Robert was a revolutionary guitarist that influenced the likes of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton. The story goes that Robert Johnson met “the devil” at a crossroads. He struck a deal with him and offered his soul in return to be a blues guitarist that was better than the rest. Historians and musicians alike have debated over this legend and whether or not there is any credibility to the story. This story has been told over years and years and has been attributed to many different artists. However, Robert is the man that is most often attributed to the story. 

Keep checking up on our blog as we research and present more stories of Black musicians and artists and how they changed history.