Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Last Fair Deal Gone Down

Nice piece here about the centennial of blues godfather Robert Johnson, who would have turned 100 last Sunday. According to legend, Johnson got his licks thanks to a deal with the devil, but in reality, his teacher was a man from tiny Grady, Alabama, which is also my dad's hometown:

LaVere credits Johnson's talent not to a soul-selling crossroads deal, but to a self-imposed apprenticeship under another little-known musician, Ike Zimmerman.

"Ike showed him how to play and Ike was a studied musician. They used to spend all night knees to knees, and Ike would teach him how to sing and present himself," LaVere said. "He left the blues early on and became a sanctified preacher and died in Los Angeles in 1965."

Johnny Shines, a contemporary and friend of Johnson's is quoted in the article. Shines, who passed away in 1992, had a much longer life than Johnson, and performed well into his seventies. He often played on Sundays at the War Eagle Supper Club when I was in college. If you never got to see him, you really missed something; he was one of the last living links to the origins of the blues.

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