THREE MUSIC LEGENDS died on this day, August 16 — in 1938 and 1977 and 2018 — a king, a queen and an itinerant blues guitarist.
Official records show that Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, died 43 years ago at the age of 42 but for millions of people in the world, Elvis will never die.
Aretha Franklin, who began her career as a child singing gospel at a Baptist Church in Detroit and went on to become the Queen of Soul, died two years ago at 76.
THE BLUES ACCORDING TO ROBERT JOHNSON
We all know about Elvis and Aretha, but less is known about the founding member of the ‘Forever 27 Club,’ blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who died 82 years ago.
Robert Johnson is considered a master of the Delta blues style. He wasn’t around for long but his music had a great influence on many musicians of later years, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Brian Jones and Keith Richard.
HIS DEATH IS STILL A MYSTERY
There are several theories how he died, including murder. According to his friend and fellow musician, Dave “Honeyboy” Edwards, Johnson was poisoned by his lover’s jealous boyfriend.
Johnson was playing at a country dance party near Greenwood, Mississippi, when he met his fate.
“There was this jealous man at the dance who had a good looking woman, and he didn’t want to lose her. And Robert was about to take her away,” Edwards related.
THAT LAST SWIG WAS A KILLER
The jealous man put a poison-laced pint of corn whiskey on the chair next to Johnson as he played, according to Edwards. Johnson took a swig and started feeling sick. Edwards took him to a friend’s house. Johnson died three days later.
“Robert loved whiskey and women,” Edwards said, “but some women you got to leave alone, you know what I mean?”
Johnson’s death makes him the founding member of the ‘Forever 27 Club’ — famous musicians who died at 27.
BOB DYLAN SINGS HIS PRAISE
Robert Johnson’s influence on generations of musicians has been huge.
Eric Clapton called him “the most important blues musician who ever lived.”
Bob Dylan wrote: “If I hadn’t heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that I wouldn’t have felt free enough or upraised enough to write.”
Said The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, “You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it.”
AND THAT’S THE NAME OF THAT TUNE
That’s the story of Robert Johnson. But the last tribute on this page is for the King.
Thank you very much.