Short Biography "Blind" Willie Johnson (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was a gospel blues singer and guitarist. THANKS: To all the searchers, especially Sam and Ann Charters, Dan Williams, Jeffrey Gaskill, Michael Hall, D.N. From December 1927, in less than two and a half years, he made a total of thirty recordings, all of a tremendously high standard. Lewis c.2020, Nancy Paulsen Books $17.99 / $23.99 Canada 32 pages It’s almost time for lights out. Did Dock break up with Catherine and go back to Willie’s mother because of the blinding, or the infidelity and the beating that, according to Angeline, led to it? There were plenty of jobs for black folks and on Saturday night, Wood Street was hopping. Johnson continued to sing and beg until, after his house burned down, he slept in its remains, contracted malaria, and died. “He just had people from here to the highway. “I learned that ‘Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’ from him but I learned to pick it ’cause I didn’t like the knife on it.”. Chris Gehrz writes about the 1920s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, whose sang about the Spanish Flu in terms that apply in a startling way to our COVID … Blind Willie Johnson version. Wood Street brought the street corner gospel singer to the town 37 miles east of Temple. Powered by, “Where the Cotton South Meets the Cattle West”, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, Mt. In most cases, however, Johnson’s fingers left the slightest forensic evidence behind, which makes what they did with a guitar, under that powerful voice, all that matters. “White and black. As there was no such place where he could stay, he continued to reside in his charred house among the ruins. The boy would strum and sing all day long, and that’s how Willie Johnson learned to play the guitar. When she met her future husband, Willie B. Harris worked as a bathhouse attendant and belonged to the Power House Church of God In Christ. The New York Giants held spring training in Marlin from 1908 through 1918 and Conrad Hilton built the nine-story Falls Hotel there in 1929. It became even more of a railroad town when the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway (“the Katy”) laid tracks through Temple in 1882. Weems on “If I Had My Way,” Arizona Dranes on “Bye And Bye, I’m Going To See the King” and Blind Joe Taggart’s “Take Your Burden To The Lord.” But entertainment attorney William Krasilovsky said in 2003 that a Blind Willie estate could earn money by copyrighting his arrangements. “Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars” by Gary Golio, illustrated by E.B. They were the father, the son and the Holy Ghost of his music. But while spending 2010 researching the life of Blind Willie Johnson, recent University of Texas graduate Shane Ford came upon an interesting bit of medical information. electrical recording process, those first sessions probably took place in the friendly confines of the Columbia Records complex, which covered three storefronts (2000- 2004) on North Lamar St. in Dallas’ West End. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for the his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. His life could’ve been saved, she said, except he was refused service at the hospital because he was black and blind. A singer and fiddle player who was never recorded that we know of, Madkin Butler was also probably the “blind singer from Hearne” who taught John A. Lomax “Boll Weevil” in 1909. Ram Prakash Pokharel (aka Prakash Slim) is an international artist/performer and educator of the blues. He was 48 years old when he died. Then, the 1937 Corpus Christi City Directory has Willie Johnson, musician, living there with wife Annie (as Angeline was known by some). His second wife Angeline said that the hospital refused to treat him because he was blind, while other sources say it was because he was black. It is determined that he is buried in Blanchette Cemetery, but the exact gravesite is unknown. Blind Willie McTell (born William Samuel McTier; May 5, 1898 – August 19, 1959) was a Piedmont blues and ragtime singer and guitarist. But the majority of Johnson’s 29 recorded songs (he cut “You’ll Need Somebody On Your Bond” twice) came from other sources. But in the 1911 Temple Directory, Dock Johnson was living with a wife named Mary, before going back to Catherine two years later. Vocally, you can be sure Patton understudy Chester Burnett took notice of Johnson’s wolf-like howl. Blind Willie’s parents were Dock Johnson and Mary King, married May 2, 1894 in Meridian, Texas, the town closest to the ranch where famed folklorist John A. Lomax grew up. In writing about Texas, music legend Blind Willie Johnson, author Gary Golio saw a tale with an ageless spirit. In 1945, a massive fire destroyed his house in Beaumont, Texas. Despite the fact that Johnson did not record after 1930, he continued to perform on the Texas streets during the '30s and '40s. For blues, you can go back to November 1923, when Louisville’s Sylvester Weaver was the first to record with slide guitar for OKeh. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Rather than detail what was wrong in some of those eyewitness reports, let’s tell you what we now know to be certain about Blind Willie Johnson, who died in Beaumont at age 48 on September 18, 1945. By 1915, everything seemed patched up, as Willie Johnson was listed as living with Dock and Catherine at 316 W. Avenue D in Temple, just 100 yards from the train depot. In 1947 he died in Beaumont, TX. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Patricia Bauer, Assistant Editor. When Willie Johnson and Willie B. Harris had a daughter, Sam Faye, in 1931, he said he was born in Temple. Yet Blind Willie sounds little like the first national star of country blues. “I approached a group of elderly black people near the town square and one of them said he was related to Blind Willie’s ex-wife, the one who sang on his records, and I thought I was going to meet Angeline Johnson,” Williams recalled in 2003. Because he was blind, he rode the train at reduced fare, if he had to pay at all. They played in the same general genre, with religious vs. secular lyrics being the core difference, but had their own styles. Even through the mists of time and lo-fi recording, his best tracks pulse with apocalyptic power. McTell was also an adept slide guitarist, unusual among ragtime bluesmen. A big chunk of music history gone. Playing music live was the only way he had to make a living since his recordings were “non-royalty,” according to Columbia session cards. Before him, nobody had been recorded who sang the way he did or played the guitar the way he did. The truth starts with a 1918 WWI draft registration card which popped up on ancestry.com around 2007. Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Dock Johnson, indeed, took a new wife, Catherine Garrett, in June 1908. “Willie lived in Temple and we’d go down there to play for the country dances and school openings and all and I’d stay with him,” said Shaw. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Help support true facts by becoming a member. He wouldn’t stay long. His left pinkie appears to be straightened by a glass or steel cylinder, which is how Angeline’s brother, Brenham-raised blues guitarist L.C. But because Walker and his engineer (“Freiberg” on label notes) were using the new Viva-Tonal! The otherworldly music of Blind Willie Johnson is on its way home. Shop for Vinyl, CDs and more from Blind Willie Johnson at the Discogs Marketplace. That’s approximately when the draft card said he was living in Houston, where there was plenty of work for a musician in the “anything goes” district where Johnson lived. “That record just scared the hell out of me,” Memphis record producer Jim Dickinson said in 2003. The music’s so supercharged with self-expression that the truth is right there for all to hear. She told Williams that she and Blind Willie began performing together at the Pentecostal church. But then “some light went out of [his] life…” His Mama died, and not long after that, when Willie was “seven or eight,” he went blind. Jefferson and Johnson also inspired Robert Johnson, who laid out the blueprint for Chicago blues and its offspring in November 1936 at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed in the August/September Texas heat. Should aliens happen upon the spacecraft and, with the record player provided, listen to that eerie, moaning, steel-sliding memorial to the Crucifixion, they will know that we are a spiritual people, that we hurt and we heal, that we do indeed have souls that live long after we’re buried. Blind Willie Johnson originally did You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond, Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King, Church, I'm Fully Saved Today, God Don't Never Change and other songs. According to the 1930 census, the musician said he was married at age 20 and divorced. While the lyrics of his songs were usually religious, his … This practice was used in the ‘30s and ‘40s, until penicillin was mass-produced in the late ‘40s. The town was also in cotton country, on the western border of the Black Waxy Prairie, so-nicknamed because of the dark and sticky soil. 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