Episode from the podcastRock N Roll Librarian

Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson

Released Thursday, 17th October 2019
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This episode Rock N Roll Librarian Shelley Sorenson and Rock N Roll Archaeologist Christian Swain go down the big muddy river and deep into the delta to discuss Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow’s new book ‘Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson’.  This time, while on our Mississippi adventure, we will play many of the few Robert Johnson recordings and couple that with samples from famous acolytes throughout the rock n roll era to show just how influential this guy was to the latter music.
Robert Johnson’s recordings, made in 1936 and 1937, have profoundly influenced generations of singers, guitarists, and songwriters. Yet until now, his short life—he was murdered at the age of 27—has been poorly documented. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Johnson since the early 1960s, and he was the person who discovered Johnson’s death certificate in 1967. Bruce Conforth began his study of Johnson’s life and music in 1970 and made it his mission to fill in what was still unknown about him. In this definitive biography, the two authors relied on every interview, resource, and document, much of it material no one has seen before. This is the first book about Johnson that documents his lifelong relationship with family and friends in Memphis, details his trip to New York, uncovers where and when his wife Virginia died and the impact this had on him, fully portrays the other women Johnson was involved with, and tells exactly how and why he died and who gave him the poison that killed him. Up Jumped the Devil will astonish blues fans worldwide by painting a living, breathing portrait of a man who was heretofore little more than a legend.
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