Call to Order: Plato's Legacy of Social Control

Overview

The result of careful research, this stylish biography of infamous blues musician Robert Johnson reveals the real story behind the mythical talent that made him a musical legend. According to some, Robert Johnson learned guitar by trading his soul away to the Devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi. When he died at age 27 of a mysterious poisoning, many superstitious fans came to believe that the Devil had returned to take his due. This diligent study of Johnson?s life debunks these myths, while ...

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Overview

The result of careful research, this stylish biography of infamous blues musician Robert Johnson reveals the real story behind the mythical talent that made him a musical legend. According to some, Robert Johnson learned guitar by trading his soul away to the Devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi. When he died at age 27 of a mysterious poisoning, many superstitious fans came to believe that the Devil had returned to take his due. This diligent study of Johnson’s life debunks these myths, while emphasizing the effect that Johnson, said to be the greatest blues musician who ever lived, has had on modern musicians and fans of the blues.

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Editorial Reviews

Blues Bytes online Magazine
The most complete and accurate book so far on Robert Johnson. . . . an interesting and absorbing book that not only will be of interest to new fans, but will fill in some gaps for longtime fans.
Blues Review magazine
Well researched, informative and easy to read. . . . An enjoyable read that separates the man from the myth.
Blues Society of Tulsa

Anyone who is aware of Robert Johnson's contribution to blues and rock music will want this book. It is as true a picture of the man as we will ever have.

BluesWax
This short book is an interesting study . . . of Robert Johnson's life but also in the legends surrounding his life and death. Graves is adept at retelling the facts.
Book News Inc.
Graves applies the lively narration of music journalism to this brief biography of Delta blues guitarist Robert Johnson.
Dirty Linen magazine
Graves' study is well researched and entertaining, and worth a read by anyone interested in Johnson and his remarkable legacy.
Memphis magazine
Graves' . . . aim in this brief but handy clearinghouse of a book is to separate fact from fiction and set the record straight, a job even Johnson's friends in the 1930s had trouble doing.
Library Journal

With a fan's enthusiasm and a scholar's scruples, Graves (English & humanities, LeMoyne-Owen Coll., Memphis; former editor, Rock & Roll Disc magazine) sets the record straight on the life and times of Robert Johnson and his influence on musicians since his passing in 1938. The myths aren't exploded but instead explained as the response of those who discovered his music, especially those young rock musicians who fell in love with it in the late 1950s and early 1960s. And that's the strong point of this book, where fact and fiction collide; in addition to shattering some ridiculous illusions about Johnson's life, the author convincingly shows that Johnson's skills as a musician and composer are what count. Fortunately, contemporaries of Johnson and those close to him left behind enough information to show what Johnson was really like, and Graves offers some useful items, as when he explains the value of the few validated photographs of Johnson. This book, which finally salvages Johnson's life from the myths surrounding it, is highly recommended.
—William G. Kenz

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780922993819
  • Publisher: Marquette Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Graves is the author of Pullers and has written articles for American HistoryMusician, The New Leader, The New York Times Book Review, The Oxford American, Rolling Stone, and The Washington Post Book World. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Steve LaVere is a music historian and a Grammy Award–winning record producer.

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