Blind Willie Johnson

“Blind” Willie Johnson  (January 22, 1897 – September 18, 1945) was a gospel blues singer and guitarist.  While the lyrics of his songs were usually religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions.  It is characterized by his slide guitar accompaniment and tenor voice, and his frequent use of a lower-register ‘growl’ or false bass voice.   (More from Wikipedia)
Adversity in life seems to be one of the sparks that have ignited many a talented musician over the years.  The idea that being blind aids hearing and, thus, musical talent is nearly a cliché.  Two of the greatest R&B artists of all time are blind:  Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles; other notable blind musicians include José Feliciano, Clarence CarterTerri Gibbs, Ronnie Millsap, and Doc Watson.  There are many others who are less well known, such as Blind Lemon Jefferson (apparently the source of the name of the 1990’s band Blind Melon), Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, and (from the world of gospel music) the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi (also called the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama and the Original Five Blind Boys of Mississippi).  Frontman John Kay of Steppenwolf didn’t just wear sunglasses to look cool; he has a degenerative eye disease.  There is no telling how many better known blind artists I am inadvertently omitting, there are so many.
(June 2011)
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Anyway, the liner notes on Dr. Crow gave an unusual level of detail about You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond:  “New words and music by Mick Farren and Andy Colquhoun to the original by Blind Willie Johnson”.  Andy Colquhoun is a past UARA and long-time member of the Deviants.  


(August 2013)


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On the first LP by Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter, Paul and Mary (1962), If I Had My Way shows a songwriter of Rev. Gary Davis (earlier versions of this traditional song exist under the probable original name Samson and Delilah, “If I Had My Way I’d Tear the Building Down” and “Oh Lord If I Had My Way”, the latter by Blind Willie Johnson from 1927). 


(February 2015)


Last edited: March 22, 2021