Most people know that rock ‘n’ roll music started with the blues. Few blues artists were as influential as Robert Johnson. In fact, it’s safe to say that rock legends such as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, The Yardbirds and the Allman Brothers were all inspired by this master musician from Mississippi.
First recorded in 1936, “Cross Road Blues” is a song about the crossroads of highways 49 and 61 in the town of Clarksdale. It is here that Johnson claims to have sold his soul to the devil in return for learning the blues. Perhaps this was just a story made up by conservative white supremacists who feared the libertine lifestyle blues artists portrayed in many of their songs and their influence on the youth.
Cross Road Blues became a hit and made Robert Johnson a rising blues star. Just as he was about to hit it big, he died mysteriously, just two years after the song was released. Some believe that he was poisoned by a jealous husband of a women that he was having an affair with.
Eric Clapton made the song even more popular when he covered it with his band Cream.
Cross Road Blues was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
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