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Robert Johnson.

Did this Legendary Bluesman

really make a pact with the Devil?


Why at a Crossroads?


Robert Johnson,

 (May 8th 1911–August 16th 1938)

Theosophists will of course note that Robert

was born on White Lotus Day


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Robert Johnson is among the most famous Delta blues musicians. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend.


The Pact with the Devil


Robert Johnson is the legendary blue guitarist who, it is claimed, made a pact with the Devil to gain his musical talent.


He is reputed to have made his famous deal with the Devil at a crossroads, and his biggest hit, Crossroad Blues has since been said to be an account of that event. However the Devil is never mentioned in this particular song and Robert Johnson is not known to have claimed that he ever made a pact with the Devil in return for his Blues playing abilities.


It is said that Johnson made his pact with Satan at the crossroads of Highways 49 & 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Johnson immediately went from being the worst guitarist to the best guitarist.”


Contemporary blues guitar player Son House said, after Johnson’s death in 1938, "He sold his soul to the Devil to play like that."


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame claims the songs of Robert Johnson "are the bedrock upon which modern blues and rock and roll were built... he is considered by some to be the grandfather of rock and roll...


According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame “Robert Johnson stands at the crossroads of American music as a popular folk legend has it, he once stood at Mississippi crossroads and sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for guitar playing powers."


Robert Johnson describes his deal with Satan in the song Me and the Devil Blues:


"Early this morning when you knocked upon my door, and I said 'Hello Satan, I believe it's time to go.' Me and the Devil was walking side by side".


Johnson describes the demons that were chasing him in the song Hellhound on My Trail:


"I got to keep moving and the day keeps on worryin' me. It's a hell hound on my trail, hell hound on my trail, hell hound on my trail."


Hellhound on My Trail was later recorded by Fleetwood Mac in 1968


Why The Crossroads?


In Southern United States black communities it was a well-known notion that one could go to the crossroads and sell one's soul to the devil. The concept dates back to African Folklore. The diety Esu was believed to be the guardian of the crossroads, and was an intermediate between gods and humans. When Christianity was brought to African Culture, these pagan gods were labeled as being similar to the devil. Hence, the concept that one could find the devil at a crossroad. In Celtic Tradition, the bodies of the unholy were buried outside of town near crossroads to preserve consecrated ground.


Witchcraft and the devil are prominent topics in early blues. Johnson's

lyrics are no exception. With songs like "Hell-Hound On My Trail", "Me And The Devil Blues" and "Cross Road Blues", it is no wonder that he caused such wild speculation.




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