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Author Topic: Robert Johnson's son dies  (Read 2115 times)

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Offline Chezztone

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Robert Johnson's son dies
« on: July 04, 2015, 10:55:31 AM »
The story below doesn't mention the remaining family member who is doing his best to memorialize RJ's life and music: Claud's son (and Robert's grandson) Steven Johnson, who runs a storefront Robert Johnson museum in Crystal Springs, Miss., and puts on a blues festival there.
And while I don't want to detract from the sadness of Claud Johnson's death, I think this is a good time to review the classic courtroom testimony that helped establish him as the rightful heir to the RJ estate. (I actually read the testimony out loud as part of my performance at the Waterfront Blues Festival yesterday, in tribute to Claud and Robert Johnson): http://www.tdblues.com/2009/12/robert-johnson-estate-court-testimony/

Claud Johnson, Son of Blues Singer, Dies at 83

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JULY 1, 2015


Claud Johnson, who became rich by winning a much-publicized court fight over the estate of his long-dead and belatedly celebrated father, the Mississippi blues artist Robert Johnson, died on Tuesday. He was 83.

His death was confirmed by John Kitchens, who represented Mr. Johnson in the case. He said he did not know whether Mr. Johnson, who had diabetes and other health problems, died in a hospital or at his home in Crystal Springs, Miss.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in early 2014 that Claud Johnson could keep the profits from the only two known photographs of his father, who is widely credited as a forefather of rock ?n? roll and whose compositions include ?Me and the Devil Blues? and ?Cross Road Blues.?

Robert Johnson did not leave a will when he died in 1938 at 27. He was destitute, but his estate later made millions. A collection of his recordings won a Grammy Award in 1990, and the album cover featured one of the two known photos of Johnson, wearing a suit and holding his guitar.

A court declared Claud Johnson Robert?s sole heir in 1998. Other relatives sued him in 2000, but the state Supreme Court said the lawsuit had been filed too late.

Mr. Johnson?s wife of 60 years, Earnestine, died about two years ago, Mr. Kitchens said. The couple had six children. He said Mr. Johnson had owned a barbecue restaurant and worked as a painter and a gravel truck driver.

?Even before he inherited his father?s estate, he would buy lots of fruits and nuts and put them in baskets and deliver them to elderly homebound people in the community,? Mr. Kitchens said. ?The only real change after was that his list grew bigger and the baskets were larger.?

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2015, 12:13:37 PM »
Sad to read this. It was Claud who identified Robert on that "3rd" photo that came out in Vanity Fair a couple years back. Although I personally don't believe it is Robert Johnson on that photo.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2015, 06:39:51 AM »
I spoke with someone who has written heavily on RJ but wishes to remain anonymous that there was some doubt about the authenticity of linage.  Anyone know anything more on this?

Offline CF

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2015, 07:40:38 AM »
My memory is that Claude's lineage was determined by someone saying that they saw Claude's mother go off with Robert for an 'adult' exchange one time. If that's right then I would say any doubts about legitimacy are very founded.

[edit] Here's the part of the trial transcript where the lineage was determined. I can't believe this was considered evidence for a paternity case???

In the end, the crucial testimony came from Virgie Mae's closest friend, Eula Mae Williams, an 80-year-old midwife with pure white hair, who recalled an evening walk she took with her fiance and Virgie Mae and Robert Johnson.

To the shock of the assembled lawyers, who had to pause during questioning because they were laughing so hard, she described how both couples made love standing up in the pine forest, watching each other the whole time.

She was questioned by Victor McTeer, an attorney from Greenville who was representing Carrie Thompson's relatives as they contested Claud's claim to the estate.

Q: Well, let me, let me share something with you, because I'm really curious about this. Maybe I have a more limited experience. But you're saying to me that you were watching them make love?

A: M-hm.

Q: While you were making love?

A: M-hm.

Q: You don't think that's at all odd?

A: Say what?

Q: Have you ever done that before or since?

A: Yes.

Q: Watch other people make love?

A: Yes, I have done it before. Yes, I've done it after I married. Yes.

Q: You watched other people make love?

A: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Q: Other than ... other than Mr. Johnson and Virgie Cain [her married name].

A: Right.

Q: Really?

A: You haven't?

Q: No. Really haven't.

A: I'm sorry for you.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 07:47:27 AM by CF »
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Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2015, 10:49:14 AM »
There is an interview conducted by John Hammond jr. on the docu "Searching For Robert Johnson" where he talks to Claud.

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2015, 01:45:22 PM »
CF, read the full testimony. Just because the witness' account is somewhat titillating, and the banter between her and the attorney is hilarious, doesn't mean it's not convincing testimony. It is. She was a very credible witness to the conception of Robert Johnson's son.

Offline CF

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2015, 02:54:25 PM »
But Chezz how is a person seeing another person have sex with another person determine that that particular sexual act is the one in which a baby was conceived?
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Offline Chezztone

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2015, 04:03:05 PM »
I'm not an expert on the law or even on this case. But as I understand it, just from reading the full transcript: this witness' testimony supported a video deposition from Claud's mother, who asserted that she had not been intimate with any other man before having this fling with Robert Johnson, which happened nine months before Claud was born. I remember reading also that Johnson knew about the baby, and came by to visit with the mother later and invited her to come with him on his travels, but that she declined and he gave her some cash and never saw her again. Claud grew up knowing who his father was, but there was no need to prove it until some money appeared in the estate decades later.
There was big money at stake in this case. If there were evidence disproving Claud's claim, the other side certainly would have produced it. Even though that exchange is humorous, there was nothing frivolous about the case. The judge made a decision after considering all the evidence on both sides.

Offline CF

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2015, 04:14:39 PM »
Yeah, I'm sorry but my BS radar is tingling, I can't believe this is how the paternity case went down. If this logic was used in other cases of law it would be laughed out of court. I suspect there was behind the scenes stuff happening or a momentary loss of reason in the court.
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Offline Chezztone

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2015, 01:16:47 AM »
I hope you never have to experience the indignity of having to prove who your father is. Sorry you can't empathize with someone who had to go through that, the late Claud Johnson, or with a judge who had to rule in such a case, based on people's testimony. When the father is long dead DNA testing isn't practical. Human testimony -- a time-honored and still common way of deciding all kinds of cases -- is still used. Just because some of the testimony is humorous does not result in the whole case being "laughed out of court." Are there any legal experts on this forum who can weigh in here? I'm really tired of this argument. Thank you.

Offline CF

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2015, 12:17:52 PM »
I'm not commenting on Claud's struggle, I'm only able to comment on information you supplied about a court case. I'm not saying oral evidence isn't convincing because it's humorous Chezz, I'm saying it's
hearsay which is partly defined as such:

the report of another person's words by a witness, usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law.
"everything they had told him would have been ruled out as hearsay"


I'm completely open to Claud being RJ's son, I'm just saying that the evidence as presented in the transcript you supplied is flawed to my sense of reason. Also, you'll notice this was started by a person above mentioning a scholar they know having the same reservations.

My uneducated opinion at this point is that when it comes to RJ, even people who should know better just NEED for stuff to be true, NEED to have a connection to him.

40 Blues scholars just signed onto an article debunking the Robert Johnson estate-legitimized RJ/Johnny Shines photo. Even after supposed 'scientific' facial recognition technology was done by the world's leading expert, the Blues community is calling BS!
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/may/23/robert-johnson-photo-does-not-show-blues-legend-music-experts-say
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 12:32:58 PM by CF »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Shovel

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2015, 12:49:40 PM »
how old was she when this 'adult exchange' happened 9 months prior to RJ's birth?

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2015, 12:57:13 PM »
Shovel, I believe the witness, Eula Mae Williams, was 14 at the time of the conception, same age as Claud's mother, Virgie Mae Cain. Also, CF, again I'm no legal scholar, but I believe the testimony of an eyewitness is NOT hearsay. The point of that humorous cross-examination was to determine if Williams actually WITNESSED the event. I believe you are correct that if someone had just come into the courtroom saying "I heard that she went into the woods with Robert Johnson nine months before Claud was born" that would be inadmissible hearsay. But what actually happened in this courtroom, while humorous to read, was very different and very convincing.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2015, 10:14:48 AM »
Wouldn't a shovel have helped fix this.  We are pulling DNA out of Mammoth and Sloth bones that are 10000 years old.  Soft tissue was recovered from a T-Rex.  Since a multimillion dollar mini-empire was at stake they should have tried to get the DNA.  Problem then is what happens if more than one of the RJ grave sites have a body.

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: Robert Johnson's son dies
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2015, 10:16:42 PM »
As that Long Feller once said:

"Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;-- "
SSG, USA, Ret

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

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