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Up jumped the devil : the real life of Robert Johnson / Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow.

By: Conforth, Bruce M, 1950- [author.].
Contributor(s): Wardlow, Gayle [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Chicago, Illinois : Chicago Review Press, [2019]Copyright date: �2019Edition: First edition.Description: ix, 326 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781641600941; 1641600942.Subject(s): Johnson, Robert, 1911-1938 | Blues musicians -- Mississippi -- Biography | Johnson, Robert, 1911-1938 | Blues musicians | MississippiGenre/Form: Biography. | Biographies.DDC classification: 782.421643092 | B
Contents:
Robert Johnson is in town -- Before the beginning -- Memphis days -- Back to the delta -- Musical roots and identity -- Marriage, death, and the blues -- The music begins -- Here comes that guitar man -- Ramblin' at the crossroads -- Traveling riverside blues -- I'm booked and bound to go -- Kind hearted women -- I left with my head cut -- Gotta keep moving', blues fallin' down like hail -- When I leave this town I'm gon' bid you fare, farewell -- You may bury my body down by the highway side -- Epilogue: last fair deal goin' down.
Summary: "Robert Johnson is the subject of the most famous myth about the blues: he allegedly sold his soul at the crossroads in exchange for his incredible talent, and this deal led to his death at age 27. But the actual story of his life remains unknown save for a few inaccurate anecdotes. Up Jumped the Devil is the result of over 50 years of research. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Robert 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, most of it material no one has seen before. As a result, this book not only destroys every myth that ever surrounded Johnson, but also tells a human story of a real person. It is the first book about Johnson that documents his years 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 who thought they knew something about Johnson" -- Google Books.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

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.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 277-289) and index.

"Robert Johnson is the subject of the most famous myth about the blues: he allegedly sold his soul at the crossroads in exchange for his incredible talent, and this deal led to his death at age 27. But the actual story of his life remains unknown save for a few inaccurate anecdotes. Up Jumped the Devil is the result of over 50 years of research. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Robert 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, most of it material no one has seen before. As a result, this book not only destroys every myth that ever surrounded Johnson, but also tells a human story of a real person. It is the first book about Johnson that documents his years 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 who thought they knew something about Johnson" -- Google Books.

Robert Johnson is in town -- Before the beginning -- Memphis days -- Back to the delta -- Musical roots and identity -- Marriage, death, and the blues -- The music begins -- Here comes that guitar man -- Ramblin' at the crossroads -- Traveling riverside blues -- I'm booked and bound to go -- Kind hearted women -- I left with my head cut -- Gotta keep moving', blues fallin' down like hail -- When I leave this town I'm gon' bid you fare, farewell -- You may bury my body down by the highway side -- Epilogue: last fair deal goin' down.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments (p. v)
  • Introduction (p. 1)
  • 1 Robert Johnson Is in Town (p. 9)
  • 2 Before the Beginning (p. 19)
  • 3 Memphis Days (p. 35)
  • 4 Back to the Delta (p. 47)
  • 5 Musical Roots and Identity (p. 59)
  • 6 Marriage, Death, and the Blues (p. 75)
  • 7 The Music Begins (p. 87)
  • 8 Here Comes That Guitar Man (p. 95)
  • 9 Ramblin at the Crossroads (p. 115)
  • 10 Traveling Riverside Blues (p. 129)
  • 11 I'm Booked and Bound to Go (p. 139)
  • 12 Kind Hearted Women (p. 161)
  • 13 I Left with My Head Cut (p. 185)
  • 14 Gotta Keep Movin', Blues Fallin Down Like Hail (p. 197)
  • 15 When I Leave This Town I'm Gon Bid You Fare, Farewell (p. 223)
  • 16 You May Bury My Body Down by the Highway Side (p. 247)
  • Epilogue: Last Fair Deal Goin' Down (p. 263)
  • Appendix I Recording Sessions (p. 271)
  • Appendix II A Robert Johnson Geneaology (p. 273)
  • Bibliography (p. 277)
  • Notes (p. 291)
  • Index (p. 309)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Conforth (African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics) and Wardlow (Chasin' That Devil Music) have spent decades studying the life of the enigmatic and groundbreaking blues musician Robert Johnson (1911-38). This book aims to be the most comprehensive, accurate, and fully researched look at his life and music as well as the environment where he grew up, lived, and created his lasting art. The authors use interviews, vital records, census data, and other sources to document the roots and experience of a man who has been shrouded in legend and mystery for almost a century. Johnson's work and loves and the historic sessions that make up his recorded output are thoroughly and richly traced through narrative and the words of contemporaries and those who knew him, along with images of documents and many photographs. Conforth and Wardlow demystify some of the lore about Johnson, painting a human portrait of a talented musician and restless soul whose influential achievements rippled through blues, folk, and rock music in the decades following his death. VERDICT Essential for blues enthusiasts and Johnson fans, this biography will also appeal to those interested in 20th-century popular culture and music.-James Collins, Morristown-Morris Twp. P.L., NJ © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

With this title, one might expect a rehash of the myth of the bluesman who goes to the crossroads to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for awesome guitar skills. And while there is some discussion of hoodoo and the devil's music, blues historians Conforth and Wardlow provide a sober, well-researched and -documented account of the life and times of the Delta-born Robert Johnson, whose 29 sides, recorded in the 1930s, still resonate today. Using marriage licenses, census reports, and death certificates along with hours of first-hand accounts from friends and contemporary musicians (including Robert Junior Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards, and Johnny Shines), the authors paint a picture of the itinerant musician's ramblin' ways. Rather than selling his soul, Johnson was mentored by Ike Zimmerman, who taught him the bottleneck slide technique. Johnson's talents lie in the way he adapted existing melodies and made them his own, as well as his unusual tunings and his ability to carry the bass, the melody, and the tempo. The foreboding imagery in Hellhound on My Trail and death by poisoning from a jealous husband further perpetuate the legend of Robert Johnson.--Ben Segedin Copyright 2019 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Fifty years in the making, a comprehensive biography of the legendary Delta blues singer.Conforth (African American Folksong and American Cultural Politics: The Lawrence Gellert Story, 2013, etc.), the founding curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and blues historian Wardlow (Chasin' that Devil Music: Searching for the Blues, 1998) waste little time taking on the myths and rumors previous books have promulgated about Robert Johnson (1911-1938). The authors seek to "return him to his human particulars" and reveal the "real story." In order to do so, they have unearthed a massive amount of primary source materials, much of it reproduced here, and numerous "first-person accounts of who he really was." They do a fine job of thoughtfully weaving the biographical essentials with portraits of the harsh and impoverished sharecropper's world of the South in the 1920s and '30s. Johnson was born in a tiny, ramshackle house near Hazlehurst, Mississippi, "the illegitimate son of two unmarried parents." He hated farming, preferring to play harmonica and guitar. He grew up hearing cotton-field blues and embraced the music "like a boll weevil did a growing cotton ball." He lived an itinerant existence, playing in jukes, roadhouses, family homes, and on the streets. He could read and write and drinka lotand womanize along the way, all the while perfecting his musical skills and learning from other musicians, like Willie Moore and Son House. Guitar fans will enjoy the detail the authors provide about Johnson's unique style of playing and their in-depth discussions of his songs as well as their fascinating account of his historic 1936 recording sessions in Texas. The authors also refute the famous mythse.g., that Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads and that he was poisoned. He had an ulcer and suffered from "esophageal varices," which hemorrhaged.Although the prose is occasionally dry, this in-depth portrait of Johnson's life and times will be mighty hard to improve upon. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.