Blues man Robert Johnson was only 27 in the hot summer of 1938 when he died near a county crossroads outside of Greenville, Mississippi, in a convulsive fit that has been compared to demonic possession. It's been said he was poisoned by a jealous husband or by a witchy woman he'd done wrong. But a lot of things have been said about the hard-drinking, guitar-picking Casanova that just aren't true. For dying so young with so few of his records in release, Johnson left behind a bawdy myth that stretches all the way from Memphis to the gates of Hades. His influence on popular culture and rock-and-roll can be overstated but not easily. He's America's Faust. His baleful singing and rhythmic finger-picking famously influenced guitarists Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page.
On November 12th and 13th, LeMoyne-Owen College is celebrating the short but storied life of Robert Johnson with lectures and a concert.
On Wednesday, the Fagin Lecture Series presents Memphis musician and musicologist David Evans, Crossroads author Tom Graves, and Dr. Scott Barretta, the former editor of Living Blues magazine to discuss various aspects of Johnson's life and legacy.
On Thursday night, Evans comes out from behind the podium to pick guitar with his Last Chance Jug Band. Contemporary blues innovator Alvin Youngblood Hart headlines the show.
The Fagin Lecture Series, Wednesday, November 12th, at 11 a.m. at Second Congregational Church, 764 Walker. Last Chance Jug Band and Alvin Youngblood Hart concert Thursday, November 13th, at 6 p.m. in the Little Theater on the LeMoyne-Owen campus. Free. Call 435-1000 for additional information.