If you aspire to study guitar, whether rock, blues, folk or something else, you really should
know Robert Johnson.
Of course there is the legend, the deal at the crossroads, and so much has been made of that.
But that’s not what is important about Robert Johnson. This man wrote and recorded just 29
songs, and left a massive mark on blues and rock music. Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimmy
Page, Jack White, and so many more consider him one of their primary influences. I’d go as far
as to say that Johnson has had as profound an influence on rock music as Chuck Berry. He also
had a massive influence on blues artists from Elmore James to Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal to
Keb Mo, and so many others. It’s incredible considering he had just two recording sessions,
just one man, his voice and his guitar and he died in relative obscurity in 1938.
There are only 41 recordings of Robert Johnson, from two separate recording sessions. It’s
worth checking these out, but as you listen, you’ll realize that you’ve probably heard so many
of these songs before. Maybe you’ve heard Elmore James’ Dust My Broom, or Taj Mahal’s
Celebrated Walking Blues. You’ve probably heard Creams’ Crossroads and maybe the Rolling
Stones’ Love In Vain Blues. Original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green recorded the entire
Robert Johnson Catalog over the course of two albums. Eric Clapton recorded 14 (just under
half) Robert Johnson songs for his 2004 album Me and Mr. Johnson.
Check Robert Johnson out wherever you stream music, and discover why so many of your
favorite guitarists find his music so inspiring. I’d recommend checking out The Complete
Recordings, as his entire catalogs check in at less than 1 hour and 45 minutes.