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1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

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  • Year:
    1986
  • Inducted by:
    Robert Palmer
  • Category:
    Early Influences
Robert Johnson
Introduction

His playing was to die for—or at the very least, sell your soul to Satan for.

Legend has it that Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads and gave him his soul in exchange for mastery of the guitar. Steeped in mystery, killed mysteriously, his legend eclipsed only by his skill, Robert Johnson may be the first ever rock star.

Hall of Fame Essay

1986

Michael Hill

Robert Johnson stands at the crossroads of American music, much as it is rumored that he once stood at a Mississippi cross­roads and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his unique musical gifts.

His life and art, hopelessly intermingled because of the few facts we know about him, are sym­bolic of the folk blues  as they passed from the delta to the secular world, and of the psychic toll exacted on those who embraced a dark midnight, knowing they would never witness the dawn to follow.

The Program Cover from the 1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
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