[Harp-L] Willie Dixon Controversy
I can't recall if it was the Deep Blues book, but I read a story about Robert Jr. Lockwood and Sonny Boy Williamson getting locked up in jail for something minor (having nowhere to go) down South. The story went that the jailers gave them their instruments to play while locked up, people would gather outside the jail cell window and throw money through the bars, then Robert Jr and Sonny Boy would split the take with the jailers. I saw Robert Jr. Lockwood at a small place called the Turning Point in Piermont, NY several years ago and asked him about that story. Without hesitation, he said something along the lines of, that was all made up just to sell the book. I'm cynical, it's true. Meetings like that only strengthen my cynicism. I figure I believe about 10% of what is presented by people trying to SELL anything that is claimed to be.
There are so many many stories. I remember talking to Robert Jr at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. We brought up the story of the Crossroads and the Devil and he went into a rage. He couldn't believe how educated people could believe such BS.
This is not just the Blues. Larry Adler's book "It isn't Necessarily So" contains numerous tales, none of which can be collaborated by a third party: His meeting with Al Capone in a Speak Easy on a Friday Night. His affair with Ingrid Bergman are my favorites. I remember well a evening at the Garden State Harmonica Club November meeting when I had a chance to talk about these tales with some of the old Vaudeville folks. Nobody believed any of them.
What harm is done? Is Robert Johnson less a genius because of this. Is Robert Lockwood Jr, less a musician because of this? Is Larry Adler less a musician because of this? I think not. I suppose there is a reason for these stories and "Deep Blues" by the late Robert Palmer is still a great book and I recommend it.
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