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Author Topic: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?  (Read 3758 times)

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Offline kaizen

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Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« on: October 05, 2014, 05:21:40 AM »
Having been a lurker here for a while, I probably could have picked a better first post than a Robert Johnson related topic, but here goes. :)

It was only yesterday that I stumbled upon this report from a Houston new station.  The link is after this paragraph.  While it deals mostly with the purported Johnson/Shines photo that we've all heard about, it was the end of the report that caught my attention.  Lois Gibson apparently claimed to have found a previously undiscovered photo of Robert Johnson drinking with friends.  Considering that this report is from back in February, I expected to come on here and find a well-informed thread weighing the possibilities.  I searched, but didn't find one.  Here's the report.

http://www.click2houston.com/news/the-mystery-of-robert-johnson/24745992

I've done some poking around the internet but haven't been able to find info anywhere else either.  I'd have thought it would have resulted in more Google hits, but maybe it was immediately debunked and nothing further said about it.  Does anyone have more information about the photo they'd be willing to share (e.g. where it was found and so on)?  I've attached a screen capture from the interview to make it a little easier to study the photo in question. 

Apologies if this has been debated extensively and I failed to find it in my search.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 05:30:53 AM by kaizen »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2014, 08:06:38 AM »
There was some discussion over at the old IGS forum when the third photo surfaced. Lois Gibson's opinion is just that--her opinion, and not proof.

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2014, 08:37:59 AM »
Thanks for your reply.  I'll see if I can find the discussion you mentioned. 

Also, I absolutely agree that Lois Gibson's opinion does not constitute proof.  Particularly after her assertions regarding the Johnson/Shines photo, I tend to be skeptical of anything she says is Robert Johnson.  Of course, I am no expert on facial recognition methodologies, either.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 08:40:06 AM by kaizen »

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2014, 09:10:43 AM »
Seems there isn't a way to access the IGS thread.  I found an old link to it, but it is dead and the Wayback Machine doesn't have an archive of it either.  Ah well.  I'll keep looking.  I'd be interested to know if any of the people in the photo were ever positively identified, where it came from, how it was found, and so on.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2014, 10:27:56 AM »
I think that the IGS site and its threads became history once Woody decided to shut it down. The problem is the objective verification of the accuracy of her conclusions with respect to the identity of the people in the photos.

Offline harriet

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2014, 10:36:40 AM »
IMHO she must have benefitted by the publicity from her work or liked the attention and initially I remember something about her saying she was needing some reference for dates to clinch it but the people determined to capitalize on this had enough by surpressing that portion to move forward.

I met Zeke who worked at Matt Umanoffs in NYC as I was looking into a national,  and there was some discussion about it, and I expressed an interest in seeing the photo, but I don't recall what his response was at the time. I know for sure that everyday of his life Johnny Shines had big beautiful front teeth and an overbite except in that picture where he has little teeth and an underbite so I have no clue what was going on in Zeke's mind - I can't believe he came out with that suggestion.  Although I had a good time at Umanoff's- Zeke is a cool guy and good slide player, when I researched the picture in Vanity Fair ( there's a clue!) it colored my opinion of him and I kind of backed off from on the idea of a national.

Don't know whether anyone has examined the original.They never offered a front and back view - I regret not having developed an opportunity to see the original.

I'm happy to have this post taken down if its offensive!

UPDATE: I corrected Zeke's name and the mag's. Doh.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 11:27:12 AM by harriet »

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2014, 11:09:05 AM »
Harriet, that makes sense.  It hadn't occurred to me that someone might have purposely stifled attempts to dig further.  As for the 3rd photo, I have run across very few people who support the idea that it is actually of Johnson and Shines.  Not to say that nobody does, but they seem to be the minority (I realize this is not news to anyone here).   

To my untrained eye, the supposed 4th photo doesn't look like Robert Johnson either.  Wishful thinking makes me wonder if there is more to it than someone believing it looks like him.  Maybe the provenance of the photo makes it a strong candidate, or possibly there is someone in the photo who has been clearly identified and is known to have associated with Johnson.  My suspicion is that it is more a case of, "He's thin, has long fingers, and he's drinking.  Must be Robert Johnson,"  though.

Stuart, thanks for the heads up.  I did manage to find a passing reference to the 4th photo on another photo, but nothing in depth and it generated very little discussion. 
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 11:10:09 AM by kaizen »

Offline harriet

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2014, 11:33:38 AM »
I wonder if they'll have the nerve to try and foist a coffee swirl or a pattern in a pancake as his spirit reaching out to us! Lawd have mercy on my wicked soul....

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2014, 12:02:15 PM »
I suppose you will not think much of the apparition of Robert Johnson that appeared on my lunchtime tamale, then...

Offline harriet

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2014, 12:08:46 PM »
If we could cut it up into 1/4 inch squares and sell it along with a certificate of authenticity I would :)

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2014, 12:11:17 PM »
I took your advice and cut it up.  Now one of them looks like Johnny Shines.

Certificate of authenticity!  :P :P

Offline Stuart

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2014, 12:53:58 PM »
The "4th" photo (earlier aka the "3rd")  can also refer to the one that Mack McCormick supposedly has in some post-Vanity Fair article discussions.  No sane person would pretend to clearly understand and follow what's going here. ---But YMMV!  :P BTW, Who's on first?

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2014, 01:17:55 PM »
It does get a little confusing to refer to the photos by arbitrary numbers.  I've read that McCormick has a few photos of Johnson, all still unpublished.  The only one I have seen specifically described is one with Johnson and his nephew who was leaving for the Navy.  To clarify, then, I am assuming photos 1 and 2 are the photo booth shot and the studio photo.  3 would be the "Johnson/Shines" photo.  4 is the one I included an image of in my first post that Lois Gibson claimed might be Johnson having a drink with friends.  The only logic to my numbering is that is the order in which I saw them, and giving them numbers allows me to be a bit lazy in referencing them  :D

Fifth is the image of Johnson on Harriet's pancakes.

Offline jonocymru

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2014, 07:58:53 AM »
Is johnson basically a swear word on here then?

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2014, 09:01:29 AM »
Hi jonocymru -

Not at all. If people want to actually discuss his music, great. The photo discussions generate less enthusiasm I'd say, not because another photo wouldn't be interesting, but because the ones that are offered up are dubious, and seem more about people cashing in on the legend.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2014, 09:03:20 AM by uncle bud »

Offline jonocymru

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2014, 03:01:15 PM »
Hi jonocymru -

Not at all. If people want to actually discuss his music, great. The photo discussions generate less enthusiasm I'd say, not because another photo wouldn't be interesting, but because the ones that are offered up are dubious, and seem more about people cashing in on the legend.

Great, Well, my interest lies in his music. Thats cool. It is sad how people cash in on him.

Offline kaizen

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2014, 11:30:50 AM »
Hi jonocymru -

Not at all. If people want to actually discuss his music, great. The photo discussions generate less enthusiasm I'd say, not because another photo wouldn't be interesting, but because the ones that are offered up are dubious, and seem more about people cashing in on the legend.

Great, Well, my interest lies in his music. Thats cool. It is sad how people cash in on him.


This was mostly the reason for the self-mockery at the beginning of my initial post.  For a while, it seemed like all anyone had to do was appear in an old photo with a guitar (or maybe some liquor) and they became a solid candidate for Robert Johnsonhood.  I think that probably gets tiresome to those who have been involved in countless discussions on the subject.

Like you, I am interested in any new info on RJ, just as I would be if there was some new insight on, say, Skip James, Barbecue Bob, or (improbably) Henry Sloan.

Offline StoogeKebab

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2014, 05:25:32 AM »
I don't know whether there's much point in trying to discuss the original photo farther but if there's one thing I'll point out, my 2 cents says that those interviews with childhood friends + Honeyboy Edwards and Willie Mae Powell mentioning his smaller eye, the man in the last photo appears to have two evenly sized eyes. But if someone wants to call a forensic investigation into it go right ahead.
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Offline hardtimekillingfloor

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2014, 08:28:40 AM »
"Is Johnson basically a swear word on here then?"
No, as long as you play by pre-established rules from forums done years ago that you don't know about.  Just make sure that you have several works sited, a videotaped blood oath, and confirmation from an established member of the blues mafia.  Then you can say what you want.

Offline tinpanallygurl

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2014, 08:56:42 AM »
" seem more about people cashing in on the legend"

No one has cashed in on the legend more than those who have already cashed in on the legend and continue to cash in on the legend.  RJ is an industry with in an industry.  No one can harmlessly come up with new info anymore without people jumping to conclusions.  Notice that Randy Meadows and some of the other "new" enthusiast researchers have stopped posting.  Its not cause new info isn't being unearthed.  Believe me there is blues research happening but the response from a very vocal few can be deafening.  Talk about RJ and other possible new info of other artists at your own risk.

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2015, 10:54:35 AM »
These Robert Johnson photo discussions could be totally futile. In the recent NY Times article Mack McMormick points out that he isn't even sure that the pictures we have of Robert Johnson are of "the guy who made the records". Even the photo locked away in a safe house in Mexico. The photo he showed to Peter Guralnick wich probably never will be published.

Offline hardtimekillingfloor

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2015, 10:28:44 AM »
Quote
Mack McMormick points out that he isn't even sure that the pictures we have of Robert Johnson are of "the guy who made the records

Not putting any stock into that without proof.  Mack is really bitter these days in regards to RJ.  He is bitter about lots of things lately.  Hell his crazy ass might have said that just hoping to devalue the Steve LeVere/Johnson empire just a little bit.


Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2015, 08:59:34 AM »
I'll wait for the peer review...
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Offline Stuart

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2015, 09:32:10 AM »
There has to be a joke about reincarnating a dead horse in there somewhere.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2015, 11:57:49 AM »
I'll wait for the peer review...
If you look at the end of that document, you'll see that it already has had a pretty extensive one...

Offline wreid75

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2015, 08:53:35 AM »
Quote
Is johnson basically a swear word on here then?

Yes and no, it depends on how seriously we are taking ourselves. 
Quote
The name Weenie Campbell is also a reminder that, no matter how much of an enthusiast one might be, it is difficult to adopt an overly serious attitude if you call yourself a Weenie.
  This is usually the rule but for some reason RJ can get peoples granny panties in a bunch so tread lightly lad.

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2015, 10:19:46 PM »

If you look at the end of that document, you'll see that it already has had a pretty extensive one...

I took those to be co-authors, the way they were listed.  I was speaking about it being a published paper in a peer journal, and then reviewed....

I do believe the paper, mind you, the way it was presented, but I'm not a forensic photo guy.  My science back ground is mostly clinical chemistry/toxicology....but I am a firm believer in peer review.
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2015, 12:19:34 AM »
In this particular case, just as a matter of interest, it was written and then circulated via the Facebook group The Real Blues Forum for review. Some people offered suggestions and then offered their names as "endorsement," so to speak.

It would be interesting for a forensic photo expert, a disinterested one, to take a look at the issue.

Offline StoogeKebab

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2015, 03:54:58 AM »
It would be interesting for a forensic photo expert, a disinterested one, to take a look at the issue.

I think you've hit the nail on the head here, motivation can do a lot, I would suggest a step of disconnection would be of benefit.
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Offline harriet

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #30 on: July 15, 2015, 07:58:38 AM »
Lois Gibson is a popular forensic artist who has received publicity for her work in the media, and she has a knack for resemblances in the area of forensic sketching, I don't believe she had biased interest when contacted.

IMHO she was mispresented in Vanity Fair by the slant of the article in favor of selling magazines with that article.

She was pretty clear in the Vanity Fair that she would need more to actually put her name to this being the same person as the other photo.

You can look her up on the internet, and there does not seem to be any mention of this there, which is telling.


Offline banjochris

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Re: Any validity to Lois Gibson's 4th RJ photo?
« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2015, 09:08:17 AM »
By "disinterested" I simply meant someone who wasn't hired by someone who had a financial interest in the photo being proved as Johnson. It's been a long time since I read the article.

Frankly, though, I would be skeptical of anyone who didn't look at or study that picture and say definitively that it's not the same person as in the other pictures.

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