Let’s Explore The Blues – Blind Willie Johnson

The blues musician Blind Willie Johnson

Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1892, passing away in 1945.  His music was inspired by his spirituality.  He had a deep gravely voice, often imitated, never bettered.  As were many of his peers, he was born in Texas.  Willie was not born blind, and no one knows what happened to create his blindness, although it has been rumoured that he caught a face full of lye, thrown at him by his step-mother, who had just been beaten by his father for carousing with other men.  Times were a bit different back then.  To start the music, we have one his most famous tunes.

Motherless Children Have A Hard Time

Here is Eric Clapton‘s version.

In his short recording career, he cut 30 songs, all between 1927 and 1930.  Again, the impact of those 30 songs has been staggering.  Check out this amazing live footage of Jack White performing Blind Willie’s “John The Revelator”  Not quite the way that Willie would have done it, I’m sure.

John The Revelator

Blind Willie died in 1945.  He lived in poverty his whole life.  The story goes that his house burned down.  Having nowhere else to go, he lived in the ruins, eventually catching malarial fever.  His death certificate reads, malarial fever, syphilis and blindness as the causes of death.  His legacy is now potentially universal.  His song “Dark Was The Night” was covered by many artists and included on the discs placed on the Voyager I and II spacecrafts.

Dark Was The Night

There are many covers of his tunes.  Here are some that you may or may not of heard at one time or another.

Grateful DeadLed Zeppelin, and Beck.  Very diverse groups, very diverse times.  Another man who is greatly responsible for what we listen to today.

About John

I enjoy travel, sports, music and anything else that jumps up at me for the moment, which is why I blog. There will be lots of music and travel posts and a smattering of sports and humour. I enjoy promoting Canada and am unabashedly a proud Canuck.

Posted on February 1, 2012, in Artists, Blues, History, Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Great stuff, great covers. The original of Dark Was The Night is haunting.

  2. No kidding. Can you imagine Plutonians playing that disc and hearing multiple versions of that one

  3. Missing video for John the Revelator

  1. Pingback: Let’s Explore The Blues – Roosevelt Sykes « Is It Possible To See It All

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