So who was Robert Johnson? In 1936 a talent scout for ARC Records, Ernie Oertle, who found his man, took him to San Antonio in Texas, and handed him over to record producer Don Laws. Thus came about, there and later the same year in Dallas, the comparatively slim recorded evidence of one of the most extraordinary and innovtive talents in the blues. Johnson is long dead - in 1938 at the age of 27, drinking a jealous man's poisoned whisky. That's the most commonly-held story, but like everything in Johnson's life his death has an air of mystery. Even his bones are mysterious - there is more than one grave. Another 1930's bluesman, the unrelated Tommy Johnson, claimed that skill at playing the blues came from the devil. If you took your guitar to the crossroads at midnight, "a big black man will walk up there and take your guitar, and he'll tune it. And he'll play a piece and hand it back to you. That's the way I learned to play " At some time in the early 1930's, when he was 20, Johnson disappered from the community of Robinsonville, in Mississippi, only to reappear months later as if he'd never been away. Something magical - or devilish - had happened during that time. From being the kind of third-rate musician tht local celebrities like Song House would chase from the stage, he had been transformed into a singer of chilling power, a writer of dark invention, and a guitarist both versatile and revolutionary. The reasons for the siappearance and the flowering of previously unsuspected talent may well be simple - a migration a little further south on a search of his own, for his natural father, and a lot of practice on the guitar. Without success as a musician Johnson was condemned to a life following the plough in the dusty fields, and this handsome, ambitious ladies' man didn't fancy that. He inspired future great artists such as The Rolling Stones, Elmore James, Eric Clapton - and Led Zeppelin. (This extract from John Collis, Robert Johnson Delta Blues Legend, Charly Blues Masterworks compact disc, Volume 13).