Clinton Heylin

When the King of the Delta Blues came home — the family life of Robert Johnson

Annye Anderson, Johnson’s devoted stepsister, remembers how the travelling musician transformed her young life whenever he returned to Memphis

A rare photograph of Robert Johnson (left) with fellow blues musician Johnny Shines c. 1935 [Getty Images]

Whatever would Robert Johnson, self-styled King of the Delta Blues, have made of the Black Lives Matter movement? His was certainly a life that mattered, but it was lived at a time when black lives mattered not a jot to white America. The circumstances of his death in 1938, at the age of 27 (he was probably poisoned by a jealous rival), demonstrate the disenfranchised existence of any peripatetic black performer in Depression-era USA.

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