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Man, don't ever take a drink from an open bottle. You don't know what might be in it - Sonny Boy Williamson II, (reportedly) to Robert Johnson Aug 13 1938

Author Topic: Johnson & Shines photo "authenticated!"  (Read 37269 times)

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Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2008, 06:37:03 PM »
Well, I guess if I had paid over $2000 for the photo, I'd be claiming it was Johnson and the Devil himself.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2008, 09:07:29 PM »
Zzzzzzzzz........hawwwwwwmmmmmmmnnnnnnh.....

Sorry did I miss something?

Anyone comes up with a picture of Ben Curry, or Kid Prince Moore, or...   wake me up...   :P

Offline Stuart

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2008, 10:25:23 PM »
I'll gonna have to take a pass for now, but give me a heads up when the docudrama / miniseries is released on Blu-ray.  :P

Offline doctorpep

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2008, 11:22:32 PM »
Sorry about that, Waxwing. I didn't even realize that there was a link to the Vanity Fair article there. As for the man on the right being Johnny Shines, he definitely isn't. He's missing the chipmunk cheeks, the semi-East Asiatic eyes, etc. Whoever said he looks more like a young B.B. than a young Johnny is correct. Mack McCormick (spelling?) supposedly has all kinds of information on Robert's death and all these pictures of him, if I'm not mistaken. I'd guess McCormick is in his eighties by now (?). Anyway, hopefully he or Wardlow or somebody will present the world some pictures of young Robert before the century is over. Honestly, I'd rather listen to some unreleased Johnny Shines recordings than see a third photo of Robert Johnson, but now I'm going off topic. I'd also love to see the complete video of Peter Guralnick interviewing Johnny.
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

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Offline oddenda

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2008, 01:30:22 AM »
I go along with David Evans - B.B. King and Willie Nix (l to r). When WILL the world get off this Johnson shit: there are SO many more important and influential artists. Not that there's anything wrong with RLJ's music... BUT it didn't sell jack in its day and took W.E. to make him a legend. It helped that he was long dead, too. Remember, when you put somebody up on a pedestal, you are really giving them the shaft!

yrs,
     Peter B.

Offline dj

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2008, 03:54:08 AM »
Thinking about this last night, two things surprised me about the Vanity Fair article.  The first is rather obvious:  Why didn't anyone show the photo to B.B. King?  The second id maybe less so:  Why wasn't an expert in historical fashion consulted in order to find some approximate date for the picture and thus establish whether the Johnson identification is a possibility?  A prop guitar doesn't necessarily mean anything, as it could sit around a photographer's studio for years.  But no self-respecting young man would be photographed in anything but the latest fashion, so fashion analysis should be able to provide a window of a few years in which the photo may have been taken.  I'm not an expert, but I can't recall any pre-war photos of blues singers wearing those wide brimmed hats and baggy trousers.  To me, they're dressed more like a couple of wartime beboppers.

Offline frankie

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2008, 04:17:03 AM »
Had the person that found this photo ever even seen a photo of Shines?

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the guy that paid for this photo only knew of Shines from having read his name in the liner notes to the Columbia RJ boxed set.  So anybody next to a guy who must be RJ (and anybody with long fingers must be RJ - come on!), must therefore be Johnny Shines.  Jeez, do I have to explain everything?!?

Thinking about this last night, two things surprised me about the Vanity Fair article.  The first is rather obvious:  Why didn't anyone show the photo to B.B. King?  The second id maybe less so:  Why wasn't an expert in historical fashion consulted in order to find some approximate date for the picture and thus establish whether the Johnson identification is a possibility?

The last RJ craze (remember the film that was purported to have been RJ?) was de-bunked by Tom Freeland of Oxford, Mississippi - based on his knowledge of movies (he identified a movie poster in the backgroud as having been released in the 1940s - after RJ's death), so dj, your second question isn't as obscure as it would seem.  Please do not distract the treasure hunters and myth makers with facts or rationality - it's such a bummer and it brings them so dooooowwwwwnnn.

Zzzzzzzzz........hawwwwwwmmmmmmmnnnnnnh.....

Nitey-nite...  zzzzzz....

Offline CF

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2008, 05:39:22 AM »
Al these discoveries of unseen Johnson film footage or photos smack of novice historical work & perspective to me. To not realize the sheer number of black musicians, the wealth of songs & culture even outside the remaining recordings & ephemera is disappointing. There's an underlying naivety, bordering on unintentional racism here too I find. Old photo of black man with or without guitar = Robert Johnson!!! How many of us, black or white, look similar in a suit & hat?
« Last Edit: October 06, 2008, 02:21:10 PM by cheapfeet »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline doctorpep

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2008, 06:12:04 AM »
Yes, it borders on racism. It borders on making a strange, foreign oddity out of a black man who wasn't even famous in his home state, and died at the age of twenty-seven in 1938. There are plenty of Bluesmen who recorded even fewer songs that Johnson, with even less known about them. Boweevil Jackson comes to mind. Elijah Wald is right when he says that it was the Stones and American Blues researchers who put Johnson up on a pedestal. Skip James' vocals and music are more cryptic, Kokomo Arnold's slide is more amazing, and Johnny Shines' voice is much stronger. I love Robert Johnson's music, but I've grown tired of him being the only pre-World War II Blues artist that people care about.
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

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Offline dj

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2008, 06:13:39 AM »
I very much agree with you, cheapfeet.  It's unfortunate that the Johnson stuff has to be the starting point for this photo, because it's an interesting photo in and of itself.  If it had been approached from the perspective of "When and where was it taken?  Who are the people?  What does it tell us about african american culture and music?" I would have found the article, and the ensuing discussion, here and elsewhere, much more interesting.  Unfortunately, there are a thousand people in the world who are going to care about this picture if it's a couple of anonymous guys from Memphis in 1942, and several million who will care about it if it's Robert Johnson.  

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #40 on: October 02, 2008, 06:17:48 AM »
I'm not an expert, but I can't recall any pre-war photos of blues singers wearing those wide brimmed hats and baggy trousers.  To me, they're dressed more like a couple of wartime beboppers.
Fashion wise one?s only got to look at the post war photos of bluesmen contained in Mike Rowe?s Chicago Breakdown to see that those suits are of a later decade.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #41 on: October 02, 2008, 08:17:12 AM »
On the other hand, I do quite like that photo of Amy Adams on the VF cover...

Hard to tell from the web resolution of the "RJ" pic, and apparently the original isn't necessarily better, but that guitar does say mid to late '30s Harmony to my inexpert eye, on first impression. But according to the article it has no strings, tuning pegs are broken off etc. Sounds like a guitar that's been lying around somewhere a while that someone picked up to use as a photo prop.

Anyone recognize the guitar?

Offline NotRevGDavis

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #42 on: October 02, 2008, 08:36:40 AM »
It looks like a Gap ad.  >:D
Got the name, still workin' on the licks!

Offline outfidel

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #43 on: October 02, 2008, 10:39:20 AM »
When WILL the world get off this Johnson shit: there are SO many more important and influential artists.

Every time I read Eric Clapton say something like this -- "At first the music almost repelled me, it was so intense and this man made no attempt to sugarcoat what he was trying to say, or play?  -- I wonder whether he's ever listened to Charley Patton, Willie Brown or early Son House?

Anyway, I'd be interested in having music and/or photos of Ike Zimmerman show up. Anyone who helped transform Robert Johnson from an annoying little kid to a guitar virtuoso must've been something else.
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Offline dj

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Re: New 3rd picture of Robert Johnson ?
« Reply #44 on: October 02, 2008, 10:46:23 AM »
Quote
I wonder whether he's ever listened to Charley Patton, Willie Brown or early Son House?

He certainly listened to Blind Joe Reynolds, since he covered "Outside Woman Blues" with Cream.

Isn't there a photo of Zinnerman in the booklet to the RJ boxed set?

 


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