The real history of Robert Johnson and the lore

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

Robert Johnson is known in the Supernatural universe as the man who made a deal to become a famous guitarist. He was introduced in “Crossroad Blues” to bring up the story of crossroad demons and making deals with the devil.

When Robert Johnson was first introduced in Supernatural, it was mainly to bring in the lore of demon deals and crossroad demons. Hellhounds were introduced, along with the dragging of souls to hell. This was a mythology that was built upon over the next few seasons, but Johnson’s legend remained in the past.

Just like H.H. Holmes, who was used as a violent spirit in Supernatural’s “No Exit,” Johnson was a real man. The lore around demon deals and hellhounds has been around for decades, considering his music is full of talks of deals with the devil, hellhounds on his tail and crossroad deals. There is plenty of lore and legend surrounding the man and here’s a look at the real history of Johnson; at least, the history that we know.

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Picking up the blues guitar in no time at all

Johnson didn’t play the guitar from a young age. It was in 1930 when he was introduced to it, but his technique required a lot of work. Within a year, he disappeared and returned an accomplished and astounding musician. It’s easy to see why many would think he made a crossroad deal to become good. Of course, it could have just been a lot of practice!

The legend of Johnson selling his soul to the devil for his blues techniques didn’t actually come about until 1960s. However, that didn’t change the stories within Johnson’s music.

It also wasn’t surprising that the legends started. In the black community at the time there were many stories of blues players selling their souls for talent. This was exactly the same as the white fiddlers of the time. There were stories of musicians heading to crossroads and waiting and there’s plenty of art.

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

The inspiration for the music

The legends of black men carrying their guitars to the crossroads and waiting for a demon or a devil to show is likely the inspiration for Johnson’s music. He picked up on the stories within the community and used them to his advantage. Stories of hellhounds dragging souls to hell at the end of their deals would have inspired him to create “Hellhounds on My Trail.”

In the end, Johnson wrote 29 hit songs within 1931 and 1937. He died on Aug. 16, 1938 under some awful circumstances. He’d drank whisky laced with strychnine, causing convulsions, excruciating pain and internal bleeding. Whether it was from a jealous lover or the husband of a lover, it’s unknown. But he was murdered for sure.

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Of course, the legend now is that the devil claimed his soul. Supernatural never showed his death through the poisoned whisky, but did show the convulsions and stuck with the legend that hellhounds claimed his soul.

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