History

Blues Legend Robert Johnson Recorded in this San Antonio Hotel

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Perhaps you have heard of Robert Johnson, the incredibly talented musician who is cited as an influence for generations of musicians. Or maybe you’ve caught wind of the legend of a blues player who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar mastery. But did you know Robert Johnson recorded his first ever sessions in San Antonio, within room 414 of the Gunter Hotel? Or that the San Antonio Blues Society honors his music annually in November?

Blues Legend Robert Johnson Recorded in this San Antonio Hotel

Facebook/Susan Dalgety

Born in Mississippi in May 1911 into a house with many children and not many resources, he moved around frequently and first learned to play the harmonica. After trying his hand at the guitar, with non-promising results, Robert Johnson persisted and improved considerably in skill. This transformation prompted supernatural assumptions, specifically, a meetup with the devil near Clarksdale, Mississippi. His fame spread via traveling throughout the United States, where blues music and African-American performers were welcome.

Blues Legend Robert Johnson Recorded in this San Antonio Hotel

Facebook/Craig Keating

After a talent scout enticed Robert Johnson to Texas, he recorded his music between November 23 and 25, 1936, including “Terraplane Blues,” “Come On in My Kitchen,” “Kind Hearted Woman Blues,” “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom,” and “Cross Road Blues.” Due to the perseverance of the San Antonio Blues Society and Robert Johnson Blues Society, a marker commemorating the Gunter Hotel as the site of Robert Johnson’s historic recording sessions was erected on November 23, 2001. He recorded only twenty-nine songs before perishing at 27 years old. It is long rumored Robert Johnson died of poisoning, by the hand of a jealous husband. Another consideration is a possible aneurysm caused by congenital syphilis and a love of drinking moonshine. Looking for his gravesite is just as mystifying as other aspects of his life and death: three different headstones are erected in separate cemeteries around Greenwood, Mississippi. If you can’t find his site, just play some of his recordings and think of how San Antonio preserved the sounds of Robert Johnson!