The term “Delta Blues” has historically been used to describe blues music originating in the Mississippi Delta. In recent years, it has become synonymous with blues played throughout the south in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Eventually, Delta Blues migrated north with the Great Depression – giving birth to the urban blues of Chicago and Detroit.
Early delta blues artists were recorded as they traveled the south, earning a living playing juke joints and street corners. Music historians like Alan Lomax and record labels producing “race records” recorded much of the works of early bluesmen. The tremors of the delta blues influence on American music can still be felt reverberating through country, jazz, pop, and rap. Delta Blues laid the foundation for R&B and rock and roll.
Robert Johnson is the most well known and widely recognized of the delta blues performers. He is revered and admired for his playing and songwriting skills by contemporary rock musicians including Jimi Page and Eric Clapton. In the liner notes of Robert Johnson’s boxed set “Complete Recordings,” Clapton calls Johnson “the most important blues musician who ever lived.”