Monday, April 6, 2009

TOMMY JOHNSON, "Maggie Campbell Blues"

Tommy Johnson had a unique style of singing, incorporating falsetto and yodeling, which complemented his intricate guitar playing and helped to eastblish himself as a premier Delta bluesman of the day. Maggie Campbell explored Johnson’s talents by showcasing his ability to blend fragments of folk poetry and personalized lyrics into set guitar accompaniments. The song came to epitomize Mississippi Blues at its most poetic and expressive. He was able to impress crowds by playing his guitar between his legs, behind his back, and often throwing it up in the air during a performance. His style influenced Howlin’ Wolf and blues singer Robert Nighthawk.

What Tommy Johnson may be most remembered for was his ploy to gain popularity by starting a rumor about himself that he sold his sold to the devil in return for learning how to play the guitar at the crossroads. Soon thereafter he began carrying around a rabbits foot with him in order to conjure up his sinister image.

He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1986 as a performer, and his song Big Road Blues was inducted in 1987 as a classic blues recording.

If you'd like to hear 'Maggie Campbell Blues for yourself, click here:
Tommy Johnson, Maggie Campbell Blues, Victor Records, released: 1928.

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