Records are Found That Rewrite History
Well, Steve LaVere has done it again.
Although he has done a lot, Steve is most notably credited with discovering what is believed to be the true final resting place of Robert Johnson. Now he has done it again – in issue #203 of Living Blues Magazine.
In the article, Steve reveals that he has found more never before seen documentation on Robert Johnson. These come in the form of census records, discovered in an unusual area. Seeing Johnson in both the 1920 and 1930 census records is very eye opening, especially to a Johnson scholar.
The information haunting, chilling, and most notably, sheds more light on the man that was Robert Johnson.
The 2009 Trip was a success. We saw a lot on the trip this year, and only managed to not find 1 or 2 intended places.
A summary will be posted here soon. To read the tweets associated with the trip, follow the link below.
Look for the summary and pictures – coming soon!
Read how Robert Johnson died that fateful night – including causes, names, locations and more.
Using the research of Barry Lee Parson, Bill McCullack, Mack McCormick, Gayle Dean Wardlow, and Steve LaVere, coupled with testimony from Luther Wade, Rosie Eskridge, and several other eye witnesses, combined with facts from Cencus records, city directories, case studies, and other professional testimonies, we have finally pieced together what happened that fateful night in August, 1938.
Read more to learn the timeline of events, including names, places, locations, and more. Find out how Robert Was poisoned, who did it, why it was done, and the events before and after the murder. Much of this will contradict Honeyboy Edwards various testimonies, but no more than he has already contradicted himself.
This has been a long time coming.
The Letter About Robert…
Frank Driggs apparently wrote a letter to Don Law inquiring about the Robert Johnson recording sessions. The letter, dated April 10th, 1961, reads as a question and answer session with Frank asking the questions, and Don Law hand writing in the answers.
Some of the stories and answers are quite interesting – paying for Johnson’s prostitute, how much he was paid for recording, and several other facts come to light in this letter. Read on to view the entire two page letter.
Is it True Robert Johnson Made and Shopped Around a Demo? Apparently, Yes.
Read about the fact that Robert Johnson did indeed record a demo, on record, and shopped it around to various places. Back in the 1930’s, these were called audition records. Read on to find out the history of this recording, and the song Johnson used on his one-track demo.
Poison Couldn’t Have Killed Robert Johnson
I strongly believe, as do others, that Robert Johnson was not poisoned that faithful night in August 1938. Personally, I believe Marfan’s Syndrome had more to do with it than anything else. To read about it, please review Part 1 of this series.
However, new evidence has been brought to light that it it medically impossible for him to have been poisoned.
Robert Johnson’s Death Certificate is a Fake!
For Part 2, let’s take a close look at the the death certificate of Robert Johnson. In order to view it with a “clear eye”, let’s examine it piece by piece, instead of looking at it as a whole. Below is a picture of the certificate, with each section we will analyze circled and numbered.
Was Robert Johnson Real? Well, kind of….
Of course, we know from 29 songs and two recording sessions that Robert Johnson existed. But, truth be told, that is about all we know- THAT Robert Johnson existed. There are so many questions left unanswered. For example, why does Son House, a legendary bluesman familiar with Johnson, not recognize his photos? How many Robert Johnson’s were there in the Delta in the 1930’s? Why are there so many discrepancies on the death certificate? (Part 2) Was the man poisoned at the three forks bar the Robert Johnson we know? Why does Honeyboy Edwards know so much, and solidify most of the legend?
For those of you who frequent this site, you know I have been looking for an image of the back of Robert Johnson’s Deatch Certificate,. Well, I finally go a copy. Here it is….
The back of the certificate clears a few things up.
For one, at the time of Johnson’s death, a 1925 Mississippi law was in effect that required a Mississippi Health Officer to conduct an investigation into any death unattended by medical aid. THis means an investigation into RJ’s death must have occurred. And we now know it did.
With this document, it is now confirmed that LeFlore County Registrar Cornelia Jordan conducted the investigation for the state director of Vital Statistics, R.N Whitfield.
The investigation, as printed above, reads as follows:
I talked with the white man on whose place this negro died and I also talked with a negro woman on the place. The plantation owner said the negro man, seemingly about 26 years old, came from Tunica two or three weeks before he died to play banjo at a negro dance given there on the plantation. He staid[sic] in the house with some of the negroes saying he wanted to pick cotton. The white man did not have a doctor for this negro as he had not worked for him. He was buried in a homemade coffin furnished by the county. The plantation owner said it was his opinion that the negro died of syphilis.
Of course, this can be taken several ways. But before we get all excited, lets think about this. For one, the plantation owner is not a doctor, so his opinion as to the cause of death matters little. In fact, it’s most likely the case that he would say what he had to to take the heat off him and his workers. Secondly, how many blues singers and rambling musicians died of syphilis with a bullet hole in the back of their head?
Also, for RJ to have actually died of syphilis, he would have had to have had congenital syphilis – meaning he had it since birth. Then and only then could it cause him to die at age 26, if he drank enough moonshine to compound this medical problem. Another option, as we all have heard, is that liver damage, moonshine, and poison could have caused pneumonia that killed him. One thing is for sure, the poison couldn’t do it alone. To be poisoned and die four days later only means the poison didn’t kill you.
We also learn from the certificate that a Carrie Harris obtained a copy of the death certificate. She could have possibly been a Johnson relative, like his half sister as some believe, and it appears she was from Memphis, Tennessee.
Even though more light has shed, it is almost certain that Johnson’s death will forever remain a mystery….
The Truth Surrounding Robert Johnson’s Death
It has long been rumored that Robert Johnson died from pneumonia, after being poisoned by a jealous husband at the Three Forks bar in Greenwood, MS. After the man responsible admitted to poisoning him, I have no doubt that this much is true. However, back in the thirties, a “remedy” often made by juke joint managers and owners was often nothing more than mothballs dissolved in water or whiskey. This “remedy” was often used to rid the juke of traveling musicians – however, it was not strong enough to kill. it was only strong enough to make a man sick enough to call it a night (and perhaps a weekend).
However, new evidence has arisen that this is not what killed him. In fact, the poison itself had little to do with it.
It is now believed that Robert Johnson suffered from Marfan Syndrome. What is that? Here’s the definition:
Marfan syndrome (or Marfan’s syndrome) is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue. It is sometimes inherited as a dominant trait. It is carried by a gene called FBN1, which encodes a connective protein called fibrillin-1. People have a pair of FBN1 genes. Because it is dominant, people who have inherited one affected FBN1 gene from either parent will have Marfan’s. Parents have a 50/50 chance of passing on the gene to their children.
So it is now believed that this is what killed Robert Johnson. Want more proof? Try this out:
– People with Marfans usually have long thin fingers.
– One symptom of Marfans is a lazy eye, or a detached lens.
– Another symptom is ptosis, or a droopy eye lid.
– Marfan victims are usually tall.
– Marfan Syndrome effects the joints and skeletal system.
– Marfans can cause Aortic Dissection, which causes a quick death.
– In more than one case, Aortic Dissection caused by Marfan Syndrome has caused the victim to fall to all fours, and howl like a dog.
As you can see, it is far more than likely that Robert Johnson, a tall, slim, loose jointed guitar wizard with a history of “resolving cataract” and unexplained sudden death had Marfans syndrome.
I guess this issue can finally be put to rest.