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Blind Willie Johnson


Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is undoubtedly one of the biggest bottleneck slide guitarists. The Tx street-corner evangelist is recognized as very much for the his effective and fervent gruff tone of voice as he’s for his capability like a guitarist. He frequently sang inside a tough, bass tone of voice (only occasionally providing in his organic tenor) having a volume designed to become heard on the sounds from the roads. Johnson recorded a complete of 30 tracks throughout a three-year period and several of the became classics from the gospel-blues, including “Jesus Constitute My Dying Bed,” “God Don’t Under no circumstances Modification,” and his most well-known, “Dark Was the night time — Chilly Was the bottom.” It really is generally decided that Johnson was created in a little town just Southern of Waco near Temple, TX, around 1902. His mom passed away while he was still an infant, and his dad ultimately remarried. When Johnson was about seven yrs . old, his father and stepmother fought as well as the stepmother threw lye drinking water, apparently at the daddy, however the lye got in Willie Johnson’s eye, blinding him. As he got old, Johnson began making profits by playing his acoustic guitar, mostly of the avenues left to some blind guy to make a living. Rather than a bottleneck, Johnson in fact played slip having a pocketknife. Over time, Johnson played acoustic guitar most often within an open up D tuning, selecting single-note melodies, when using his slip and strumming a bass range along with his thumb. He was, nevertheless, recognized to play inside a different tuning and minus the slip on several rare occasions. Irrespective of his exceptional blues technique and audio, Johnson didn’t desire to be a bluesman, for he was a separate believer within the Bible. Therefore, he began performing the gospel and interpreting Negro spirituals. He became a Baptist preacher and brought his sermons and music towards the roads of the encompassing cities. While executing in Dallas, he fulfilled a woman called Angeline and both wedded in 1927. Angeline added 19th hundred years hymns to Johnson’s repertoire, and both performed throughout the Dallas and Waco areas. On Dec 3, 1927, Columbia Information brought Blind Willie Johnson in to the studio room where he documented six tracks that became a few of his most long lasting recordings: a music about Samson and Delilah known as “EASILY Had My Method,” “Mother’s Kids Have trouble” (frequently realized as “motherless kids”), “It’s Nobody’s Problem but Mine,” “Jesus Constitute My Dying Bed,” ” I UNDERSTAND His Blood COULD MAKE Me Entire,” and Johnson’s solitary most-acclaimed music, “Dark Was the night time — Chilly Was the bottom,” that is regarding the crucifixion of Christ. But following this program, Johnson didn’t go back to the studio room for a whole year. The next visit (which occurred on Dec 5, 1928) discovered him associated with his wife, Angeline, who offered backing vocals. Both recorded four tracks, including “I’m Gonna Set you back the town of Refuge” and “Lord, I SIMPLY Can’t AVOID Cryin’.” Tracks from these 1st two sessions had been also issued for the Vocalion label. Almost a year later on, Willie and Angeline Johnson fulfilled Elder Dave Ross and proceeded to go with him to New Orleans where Blind Willie Johnson documented ten music for Columbia. Out of this Dec 1929 program came some more of his best-known music, including “God Don’t Hardly ever Transformation,” “Allow Your Light Glimmer on Me,” and “YOU WILL NEED Somebody on your own Connection.” Although Blind Willie Johnson was among Columbia’s best-selling competition recording performers, he only documented for them once more — in Apr 1930 — and he never noticed from them once again. This final program occurred in Atlanta, GA (once again, Johnson was associated with Angeline who in fact sang business lead on several numbers this time around), and contains ten music, including “Can’t No one Cover From God,” “John the Revelator,” as well as the somewhat changed “You’re Gonna Want Somebody on your own Connection.” These last two music were issued using one record which was withdrawn soon after its discharge. Even though Johnson didn’t record after 1930, he continuing to perform over the Tx roads through the ’30s and ’40s. However, in 1947, the Johnsons’ house burned to the bottom. He captured pneumonia quickly thereafter and passed away within the ashes of his previous home approximately seven days after it had been ruined. Purportedly, Angeline Johnson continued to are a nurse through the 1950s. Over time, many artists possess protected the gospel tracks made popular by Blind Willie Johnson, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Ry Cooder (“Dark Was the night time” influenced Cooder’s rating for the film Paris, Tx). Johnson’s music “EASILY Had My Method” was actually revived as a favorite hit through the 1960s when it had been included in the modern folk music group Peter, Paul and Mary. Many excellent choices of Blind Willie Johnson’s music exist, including Dark Was the night time (on Sony) and Compliment God, I’m Pleased (on Yazoo). Johnson’s music also shows up on many compilations of nation blues and slip guitar.

Quick Facts

Full Name Blind Willie Johnson
Died September 18, 1945, Beaumont, Texas, United States
Profession Singer
Nationality American
Parents Mary Fields, George Johnson
Awards Grammy Hall of Fame
Music Songs God Don't Never Change, Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground, The Soul Of A Man, John the Revelator, It's Nobody's Fault but Mine, Jesus Is Coming Soon, Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed, Let Your Light Shine on Me, Trouble Will Soon Be Over, Mother's Children Have a Hard Time, Bye and Bye I'm Goin to See the King, I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole, You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond, I'm Gonna Run to the City of Refuge, Can't Nobody Hide from God, God Move on the Water, If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down, When the War Was On, Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning, Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Cryin', Sweeter as the Years Roll By, Praise God I'm Satisfied, If It Had Not Been for Jesus, Church, I'm Fully Saved Today, Everybody Ought to Treat a Stranger Right, Motherless Children, Go With Me to That Land, Take Your Stand, The Rain Don't Fall on Me, Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There, Lord I Can’t Just Keep From Crying, If I Had My Way
Albums Blind Willie Johnson's John The Relevator, Love Songs 4 U, Treasures of North-American Negro Music, Vol. 2 (Recorded in 1927, Mono Version), Summer Songs, Wonderful Collection, Trust, Memories Suite, Repentance, Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed, The Complete Blind Willie Johnson, The Soul of a Man, The Essential Blind Willie Johnson, Saga Blues: King of the Guitar Evangelists, Blind Willie Johnson, Vol. 1 (1927-1929), My Special Angel, Absolute Hits, Blind Willie Johnson (The Big Blues Collection), If I Had My Day, I'd Tear the Building Down, Praise God I'm Satisfied, Save the Last Song for Love (Remastered), Last Tower's Bell, Please Stay Somedays, Music Connection, The Very Best Of, Song in Sand, All the Fabulous Masters, Masterpieces Presents Blind Willie Johnson: 10 Greatest Blues Hits, The Absolute Works, The Great Masters, Dark Was the Night, The Immortal Blues Masters, American Epic: Blind Willie Johnson, Dark Was the Night: 1927-1930 Dallas, Atlanta, & New Orleans Recordings, You'll Have Swing, You'll Play!, Magic Masterpieces, Honey Fly, People Golden Dream (Remastered), In Love with my Music, Over the Top Blues Masterpieces (Remastered), Easy Bounce, Complete Recorded Titles, Volume 1: 1927 to 10th December 1929, All the Greatest Songs, The Groovin' Atmosphere, Midnight Together, Wonderful Soundtrack, It's Nobody's Fault But Mine - The Best Of, Growlin' the Blues, Complete Blues: The Soul of a Man, Fantastic Selection, Take My Music and Play, Anytime in My Mind

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1 His wife Angeline recorded several tracks with him in the late 1920s. Nothing is known about her.
2 Influential African American spiritual guitarist who recorded 30 sides between December 3rd, 1927, and April 20th, 1930.
3 Only one photograph of him exists. It was included in a 1927 Columbia Records album. It is the only visual record of him that survives.
4 Was blinded by his stepmother because his father had beaten her when he found her with another man. He was seven years old at the time. She threw lye in his face.



Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire 2013 writer: "Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying"
Twenty Feet from Stardom 2013 Documentary writer: "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - uncredited
Public Enemies 2009 performer: "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" 1927 / writer: "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" 1927
First Snow 2006 writer: "God Don't Ever Change"
A Prairie Home Companion 2006 arranger: "Let Your Light Shine On Me"
Walk the Line 2005 performer: "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" / writer: "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground"
The Skeleton Key 2005 performer: "God Moves on the Water" / writer: "God Moves on the Water"
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson 2004 Documentary performer: "God Moves On the Water" / writer: "God Moves On the Water"
The Ladykillers 2004 arranger: "Let Your Light Shine On Me" / performer: "Let Your Light Shine On Me"
The West Wing 2004 TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Blues TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode, 2003 writer - 1 episode, 2003
The Soul of a Man 2003 Documentary "Dark Was The Night", "Soul Of A Man" / performer: "Soul of a Man", "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground", "Trouble Will Soon Be Over", "John the Revelator" / writer: "Soul of a Man", "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground", "Trouble Will Soon Be Over", "John the Revelator" - as Willie Johnson
Da Vinci's Inquest 2000 TV Series writer - 1 episode
Post Mortem 1999 performer: "Dark Was the Night" by nm1380446 as Blind Willy Johnson
Bastard Out of Carolina 1996 performer: "Let Your Light Shine On Me" / writer: "Let Your Light Shine On Me"
Baseball TV Mini-Series documentary performer - 1 episode, 1994 writer - 1 episode, 1994
The Gospel According to St. Matthew 1964 performer: "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" / writer: "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground"

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1 Distinctive gravelly voice and guitar playing

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