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Blind Willie Johnson

Blind Willie Johnson (January 25, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was an American gospel blues singer, guitarist and evangelist. His landmark recordings completed between 1927 and 1930—thirty songs in total—display a combination of powerful "chest voice" singing, slide guitar skills, and originality that has influenced later generations of musicians. Even though Johnson's records sold well, as a street performer and preacher he had little wealth in his lifetime. His life was poorly documented, but over time music historians such as Samuel Charters have uncovered more about Johnson and his five recording sessions.

A revival of interest in Johnson's music began in the 1960s, following his inclusion on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, and by the efforts of the blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis. Johnson's work has become more accessible through compilation albums such as American Epic: The Best of Blind Willie Johnson and the Charters compilations. As a result, Johnson is credited as one of the most influential practitioners of the blues, and his slide guitar playing, particularly on his hymn "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground", is highly acclaimed. Other recordings by Johnson include "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed", "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine", and "John the Revelator".

Birth and Death Data: Born January 22nd, 1897 (Brenham;Pendleton, Texas), Died September 18th, 1945 (Beaumont)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1927 - 1930

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, guitar

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 32 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia W145316 10-in. 12/3/1927 I know His blood can make me whole Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W145317 10-in. 12/3/1927 Jesus make up my dying bed Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W145318 10-in. 12/3/1927 It's nobody's fault but mine Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W145319 10-in. 12/3/1927 Mother's children have a hard time Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W145320 10-in. 12/3/1927 Dark was the night—cold was the ground Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W145321 10-in. 12/3/1927 If I had my way I'd tear the building down Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W147568 10-in. 12/5/1928 I'm gonna run to the City of Refuge Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal duet, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Columbia W147569 10-in. 12/5/1928 Jesus is coming soon Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal duet, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W147570 10-in. 12/5/1928 Lord I just can't keep from crying Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal duet, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W147571 10-in. 12/5/1928 Keep your lamp trimmed and burning Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal duet, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W147572 10-in. 12/5/1928 [Unknown title(s)] Blind Texas Marlin Male vocal solo ("blues or gospel singer") vocalist  
Columbia W147573 10-in. 12/5/1928 [Unknown title(s)] Blind Texas Marlin Male vocal solo ("blues or gospel singer") vocalist  
Columbia W149578 10-in. 12/10/1929 Let Your light shine on me Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Columbia W149579 10-in. 12/10/1929 God don't never change Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149580 10-in. 12/10/1929 Bye and bye I'm goin' to see the King Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149581 10-in. 12/10/1929 Sweeter as the years roll by Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149594 10-in. 12/11/1929 You'll need somebody on your bond Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149595 10-in. 12/11/1929 When the war was on Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149596 10-in. 12/11/1929 Praise God I'm satisfied Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149597 10-in. 12/11/1929 Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149598 10-in. 12/11/1929 Take your stand Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W149599 10-in. 12/11/1929 God moves on the water Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W150307 10-in. 4/20/1930 Can't nobody hide from God Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Columbia W150308 10-in. 4/20/1930 If it had not been for Jesus Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Columbia W150309 10-in. 4/20/1930 Go with me to that land Blind Willie Johnson Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
(Results 1-25 of 32 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Johnson, Blind Willie," accessed April 19, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110122.

Johnson, Blind Willie. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110122.

"Johnson, Blind Willie." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 19 April 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110122

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