Robert Johnson (partially lost recordings of blues singer; late 1930s)

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One of three surviving photos of Johnson.

Status: Partially Lost

Robert Johnson is a legendary blues guitarist that helped lay many of the roots for rock music. Johnson's life is shrouded in mystery. He is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his skills. He was among the first of many influential musicians to die at the age of 27, being an early member of what many refer to as the "27 Club".

Johnson was recorded only twice during his lifetime. He was recorded by Don Law in 1936 after seeking him out. Johnson then disappeared for several months before returning to record in 1937. He died the next year before recording more material.

Originally, it was thought that about 29 songs, with some alternate takes, were all that was recorded. All of the tracks totaled 41 recordings. In the 60s, King Of Delta Blues Singers Volumes I and II was released. They were thought to be the complete collections until 1989 when a few alternate takes were discovered in a vault. In 1990, The Complete Recordings was released and is, to this day, the most complete collection of Johnson's recordings. For years, it was thought that all of Johnson's recordings were accounted for.

Tom Graves, in research for his book "Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson", found that paperwork done by Law accounted for 59 recordings. It is unknown what happened to the remaining 18 recordings. It's possible Law issued some of the missing tracks over the years, and this could be the only chance they have to surface if the originals are lost.