American guitarist and singer (1902-1947). Not much is known about Johnson's life. He was born in Marlin, Texas, and was blinded sometime between the ages of 3 and 7 when his stepmother threw lye into his eyes because she was angry at his father. He earned a living by singing on street corners, and he became a Baptist preacher. He married in 1927 and relocated to Dallas, where he recorded for Columbia. Johnson's gruff voice was primarily employed for gospel music, though he sometimes used the blues to carry his religious messages. He was also an outstanding slide guitarist.

After Johnson's house caught fire, he had nowhere else to go, so he slept in the burned-out ruins, caught pneumonia, and died.

Johnson's best known songs include "Motherless Children Have a Hard Time", "If I Had My Way", "Let Your Light Shine on Me", "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond", and "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed".

Addendum: m_turner reminds me that Johnson's song "Dark Was the Night" was included, along with music by Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart, on the gold record that got sent into space on Voyager I and Voyager II. So, somewhere up there, some alien is drunk on good space-bourbon, grooving on some damn fine blues...

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