Lost Media Archive

Check out the Lost Media Wiki’s article on the lost Robert Johnson recordings!!

One of three surviving photos of Johnson.

Robert Johnson is a legendary blues guitarist that helped lay many of the roots for rock music in the coming decades. Johnson's life is shrouded in mystery. He is the guitarist rumored to have gotten his skills from the devil. He was the first of many influential musicians to die at the age of 27, starting what many refer to as the "27 Club".

Johnson had only been recorded twice during his lifetime. Alan Lomax, a man who was searching for talented musical acts to record, discovered Johnson and recorded him in a hotel room (reportedly with his back turned to Lomax) for a couple of thousand dollars in 1937. Johnson then disappeared for several months before returning to record for Lomax in 1938. He died a few months later, before he could record any more tracks. Lomax circulated around a few single records of some of Johnson's songs.

In total, about 29 songs were thought to have been recorded, with some alternate takes. All of the tracks combined totaled to 42 recordings. In the 60s, King Of Delta Blues Singers Volumes I and II were released. They were thought to be the most complete collections until 1989, when a few of the alternate takes were discovered in a vault. In 1990, The Complete Recordings was released and is, to this day, the most complete collection of Johnson's recordings. For years, many thought that all of Johnson's recordings were accounted for.

Then, in the 2000s, it was revealed by scholar Tom Graves that according to some paperwork done by Lomax in the 30s, there were a whopping 59 recordings total of Johnson's blues songs. It is unknown what happened to the remaining 17 songs, but it is entirely possible that Lomax may have issued out some of the missing tracks as single records over the years. Unless the master tapes emerge any time soon, this may be the only chance any of these tracks have of surfacing.

Also missing are many photographs of Johnson. For several decades, it was thought that only 2 confirmed photographs existed of Johnson: one was a studio photo of him on a stool, the other was taken in a booth with him staring directly into the lens. Then, in 2013, a third picture was revealed to have surfaced with him standing next to an unknown man. Johnson is easily identifiable with the unusual length of his fingers and his strange glare; his left eye is more narrow than his right.