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Trivia / Robert Johnson

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  • Black Sheep Hit: His best-selling song during his lifetime, "Terraplane Blues", is one of his lighter numbers (a Double Entendre-filled Car Song).
  • Genre Adultery: The one non-Blues song he recorded, the uptempo, comical "They're Red Hot", which is closer to the Hokum genre. Like most Delta Blues singers, Johnson actually had a vast pop music repertoire, since playing on the street or in juke joints he would've needed to play requests for the hit songs of the day. But when it came time to record, the record companies restricted the Delta singers to Blues since they were popular and easier to copyright.
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  • Reclusive Artist: Since so few facts were known about him at the time his music was rediscovered, he developed a reputation as this, with legends claiming he was a drifter who never spoke to anyone in any town he entered and avoided being seen or photographed by others whenever possible, to the point of recording against a wall with his back turned to the producer. In actual fact, while he certainly shares many of the attributes of a Reclusive Artist (few confirmed photographs, no interviews, a life story that’s mostly a mystery), it’s now known that he absolutely had friends and acquaintances, and enjoyed going out; he was simply so poor that he could rarely afford photographs and so little-known in his own time that he was never reported on.
  • Short-Lived, Big Impact: Johnson died at just 27 (making him a charter member of the infamous "27 Club") but his influence is profound not only on the Blues but on Rock, R&B, Jazz, and more.
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  • Fan theories suggest that he was recorded at a slower speed, but that engineers didn't notice and assumed that it was 78rpm. Played at ~85% speed, Johnson's songs sound more natural and blues-y.