The Search for Robert Johnson

The Search for Robert Johnson

The Real Story of the Greatest Folk Blues Guitar Player That Ever Lived

DVD - 2013?
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For decades little was known about Robert Johnson. Legend was rife with supernatural accounts of his life, his pact with the devil, and conflicting versions of his death. The Search For Robert Johnson traces the path of this most legendary of Bluesmen, a figure whose blues influenced the development of popular music in the US and UK, but whose life story was shrouded in mystery. Narrator John Hammond steers through the travelogue as he re-enacts the work of the original researchers.
Publisher: West Long Branch, New Jersey :, Kultur,, [2013?]
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780769750538
Branch Call Number: DVD BIO JOHNSON R. Search
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (72 min.) :,sound, color ;,4 3/4 in.
video file, DVD video, region 0, rda
digital, optical, rda


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Feb 07, 2015

This good but flawed documentary about the life, music, and legend of the outstanding and influential blues guitarist, Robert Johnson, will interest serious fans of Johnson and the blues, as well as people who enjoy informal storytelling or like an intriguing story with mystery to it.

The Columbia record producer, John Hammond, was important in promoting such recording artists as Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Bruce Springsteen. He was perhaps the first person outside Johnson's region of the Mississippi Delta and its immediate environs to recognize Johnson as an important musician. Hammond attempted to recruit Johnson for a Carnegie Hall concert in 1938, but learned that Johnson died shortly before. In the year before his sudden death, Johnson had attended two recording sessions in Texas. The record company released two records (with two songs each), one of which became a minor hit locally. In 1961, Hammond and Columbia released for the first time most of Johnson's recorded work, naming him "King of the Delta Blues" -- the coronation was by Columbia and not by the people of the Delta. These records became popular, and this minor travelling musician influenced a great many blues guitarists since that time. In this American made-for-TV movie, we have the obligatory famous rock stars testifying to his importance, but these segments are mercifully short.

In "The Search," we follow John Hammond's son, the blues musician, John Hammond Jr., through Mississippi as he searches for people and places in the life of Robert Johnson. He has intriguing conversations with both musicians who travelled with Johnson and old girlfriends. Americans love to turn people into legendary characters (besides Stompin' Tom and Stan Rogers, what "legendary" Canadian musician leaps to mind?), and Hammond is absorbed in the romance surrounding Robert Johnson, including both the supposed selling of his soul for musical prowess, and the mysterious circumstances of his death. It does makes an interesting journey, though we could do with less of Hammond's (excellent) Robert Johnson impersonations in the singer's old haunts. Sill, it's a good film, well worth watching if you're interested in its subject.

(To put the movie and Johnson's music in a broader perspective, read Escaping The Delta: Robert Johnson and The Invention of The Blues. You can find my review of this book by clicking on "Dr. Folklore" above this review.)


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Jan 01, 2014

This DVD is about Depression Era blues Musician Robert Johnson. Mr. Johnson has been a Major influence for future Blues and Rock and Roll musicians including but not limited to Eric Clapton.

The documentary spotlights Mr. Johnson's live back inthe 1920's and 1930's.

I will say that the viewer rating, in my opinion is PG 13. This is due to religious references and racial segregation.


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