By SHELIA BYRD
The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. – The mystery surrounding bluesman Robert Johnson’s life and death feeds the lingering fascination with his work.
There’s the myth he sold his soul to the devil to create his haunting guitar intonations. There’s the dispute over where he died after his alleged poisoning by a jealous man in 1938. Three different markers claim to be the site of his demise.
His birthplace, however, has been verified. The seminal bluesman came into the world in 1911 in a well-crafted home built by his stepfather in the Mississippi town of Hazlehurst.
Now, 71 years after his death, local officials want to restore the home in hopes of drawing Johnson fans and their tourism dollars to Copiah County, about 100 miles from the Delta region that most bluesmen called home.
Johnson’s life and music have been the subject of multiple books. And producers are shopping a script in Hollywood about him penned by Jimmy White, the screenwriter for the Academy Award-winning film, “Ray.”
“It’s amazing that after all these years, people still talk about Robert Johnson on the level that they do,” said the bluesman’s grandson, Steven Johnson.
Johnson’s influence can be heard in the works of numerous artists, from Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton, who covered 14 of the bluesman’s songs on his 2004 album, “Me and Mr. Johnson.” (more)