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Tommy Johnson: Big Road Blues

Johnson's recordings established him as the premier Delta blues vocalist of his day, with a powerful voice that could go from a growl to a falsetto. He was also an accomplished guitarist. His style influenced later blues singers such as Robert Nighthawk and Howlin' Wolf,[3] whose song "I Asked for Water (She Brought Me Gasoline)" was based on Johnson's "Cool Water Blues". He was a talented composer, blending fragments of folk poetry and personalized lyrics into set guitar accompaniments to craft striking blues compositions such as "Maggie Campbell".
To enhance his fame, Johnson cultivated a sinister persona. According to his brother LeDell, he claimed to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his mastery of the guitar. This story was later also associated with Robert Johnson, to whom Tommy Johnson was unrelated. Tommy Johnson also played tricks with his guitar, playing it between his legs and behind his head, and throwing it in the air while playing.
Johnson remained a popular performer in the Jackson area through the 1930s and 1940s, sometimes performing with Ishman Bracey.[2] He was highly influential on other performers, partly because he was willing to teach his style and his repertoire. Tommy Johnson's influence on local traditions is discussed by David Evans in Tommy Johnson and ''Big Road Blues. Tradition & Creativity in the Folk Blues.

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