Up Jumped the Devil

The Real Life of Robert Johnson

Bruce Conforth ('90 Ph.D.), Gayle Dean Warlow
Publication Date
2020

Robert Johnson's recordings, made in 1936 and 1937, have profoundly influenced generations of singers, guitarists, and songwriters. Yet until now, his short life—he was murdered at the age of 27—has been poorly documented. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Johnson since the early 1960s, and he was the person who discovered Johnson's death certificate in 1967. Bruce Conforth began his study of Johnson's life and music in 1970 and made it his mission to fill in what was still unknown about him. In this definitive biography, the two authors relied on every interview, resource, and document, much of it material no one has seen before.

This biography has won the prestigious 2020 Penderyn Prize as the year's best music book (theory, history, analysis, biography, autobiography, fiction, etc.). It is also a finalist for the ARSC (Association of Recorded Sound Collections) annual award for excellence in the Best Historical Research category, has been published in the U. S. and U. K. and has a French edition coming out this October.