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Bruce Conforth on Robert Johnson
July 17, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Bruce Conforth discusses his new book, Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Rovert Johnson.
Praise for Up Jumped the Devil
“This is the book the blues world has been waiting for. Authored by two uniquely qualified scholars following years of extensive interviews and exhaustive research, the result is fascinating, important, and factual, without agenda or embellished narrative. . . . It is in my view a far more moving account than many others that have been obscured by so much fantasy. It’s a can’t-put-it-down kind of book—an exciting, great read.” —Rory Block, celebrated acoustic blues guitarist/singer and five-time Blues Music Award winner
“Finally an in-depth biography of one of the greatest blues musicians ever. The clearing up of the myths and mysteries is a relief. The work of the authors is meticulous. They detail Robert Johnson’s journey with facts, creating a full view of his life and times, his friends and influences, so the reader has a comprehensive understanding of how he came to be the greatest of the Delta bluesmen. I am blown away!” —John Hammond, Jr.
“Some people will tell you that blues legend Robert Johnson lived under a curse, but it’s actually research into Johnson’s life that’s been bedeviled. Three of my friends died before publishing their books on him, and for a long time I’ve feared we might never get a reliable account of this artist’s life and times. Finally the curse has been lifted. Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow started researching Robert Johnson and the Delta blues tradition more than a half-century ago, and they are now sharing their hard-won insights into the most mysterious man in the annals of American music. If you want the straight story on Robert Johnson, this is where you start.” —Ted Gioia, author of Delta Blues and The History of Jazz
About Up Jumped the Devil
Robert Johnson’s recordings, made in 1936 and 1937, have profoundly influenced generations of singers, guitarists, and songwriters. Yet until now, his short life—he was murdered at the age of 27—has been poorly documented. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Johnson since the early 1960s, and he was the person who discovered Johnson’s death certificate in 1967. Bruce Conforth began his study of Johnson’s life and music in 1970 and made it his mission to fill in what was still unknown about him. In this definitive biography, the two authors relied on every interview, resource, and document, much of it material no one has seen before. This is the first book about Johnson that documents his lifelong relationship with family and friends in Memphis, details his trip to New York, uncovers where and when his wife Virginia died and the impact this had on him, fully portrays the other women Johnson was involved with, and tells exactly how and why he died and who gave him the poison that killed him. Up Jumped the Devil will astonish blues fans worldwide by painting a living, breathing portrait of a man who was heretofore little more than a legend.