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Publisher's Summary

Robert Johnson is the subject of the most famous myth about the blues: he allegedly sold his soul at the crossroads in exchange for his incredible talent, and this deal led to his death at age 27. But the actual story of his life remains unknown save for a few inaccurate anecdotes. 

Up Jumped the Devil is the result of over 50 years of research. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Robert 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, most of it material no one has seen before. As a result, this book not only destroys every myth that ever surrounded Johnson, but also tells a human story of a real person. It is the first book about Johnson that documents his years in Memphis, details his trip to New York, uncovers where and when his wife Virginia died and the impact this had on him, fully portrays the other women Johnson was involved with, and tells exactly how and why he died and who gave him the poison that killed him. Up Jumped the Devil will astonish blues fans who thought they knew something about Johnson.

©2019 Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Up Jumped the Devil

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Amazing

This answers so many questions about Johnson's life and adds understanding to his records. It would have been better with musical examples, so grab a copy of the box set to follow along in the chapters about the recordings in Texas. Like another listener, I felt that though the reader had a good vibe, his pace was plodding and I had to crank him up to 1.25X.

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Must listen for blues fans

I have gone most of My adult life being a huge Robert Johnson fan. I was always under the impression that nothing was known about him. Most of what I knew about him Came from the movie Crossroads and a handful of light documentaries.

Enter this book. Many hours of details stitched together wonderfully. The information seemed credible and it provided great context for the music that I know so well and love so much. I particularly liked the break down of the lyrics that I never put much thought into.

My only hang up was the narration. Wow. Can you say boring? I sped it up to 1.25 and that made it tolerable.

1 person found this helpful

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Whoever loves music should read/listen to this.

I have gone through and loved many genres of music in my 40 years on this pale blue dot, but the blues... As Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones once said "The only good thing America has gave to the world is the Blues."
I think this book is a must-read for anyone who loves music and especially anyone who loves the blues.
I want to thank the author and the person who read it aloud and the people who put it together to be in audiobook format where I could enjoy this. Thank you.
Robert Johnson has forever changed the landscape of music it will always be one of my heroes.

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unique story!

Greatest story in american music history. A true breakthrough in the research about Robert Johnson. I really enjoyed the whole book!

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Excellent informative empathetic story

Brings Johnson to life in a way that helps enrich his music. I hear his music in ways I didn't before, thank you for giving Robert his life back.

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Stop Breakin' Down

and listen to this thoroughly researched and enjoyable account of the life, culture, history, times, and influence of the King of the Delta Blues Singers! Red Hot

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very informative and entertaining

I loved it. I enjoyed the narrator's reading of the book immensely. I just wish it didn't have to end. there are lots of theories and legends about Robert Johnson and I felt like this book cleared up most of the mysteries. at least if we don't know for sure about certain facts (which we don't), the author made that clear rather than trying to put forth speculation as fact.

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Best RJ biography yet!

Best most realistic version of RJ’s life yet. Nixon does a great job with the reading performance. Only wish a few of the tunes could have been sprinkled in amongst the story.

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Awesome

This book is so complete and compelling. Gives a full story of an American musical genius and legend.

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Very detailed biography

A little on the slow side, but very interesting for someone (like myself) wanting to learn more about one the blues' founding fathers.

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  • andew ellis
  • 06-14-22

from myth to reality

after listening to this book, I felt like I knew Robert Johnson, extremely well written and extremely well read, must be the most accurate story of his life so far

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  • Being Of Enlightenment
  • 06-22-21

The Man The Myth The Music

Well read and well written book of one of the true greats of blues music. Strongly recommend it.

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  • Kaizersoza
  • 05-22-21

brilliant listen for all you blues/Robert Johnson

Great story, well read thoroughly enjoyed it, imho possibly the best book on Robert Johnson for me

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-21

for all blues lovers this is a must,

for all blues lovers this is a must, great book. highly enjoyed.

I've read any different tellings of RL 's story but this seemed to be the most honest and factually account.

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  • Mitchell
  • 03-21-20

Up jumped the devil.

Informative,interesting, enjoyable,well written,well read,addictive.Brilliant factual account.Give this a listen or a read,you wont be disappointed.

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  • Hoops
  • 02-02-20

Debunks the Johnson myths

Using a lifetime of their own experience and research, the authors have constructed a comprehensive and detailed biography of this famed bluesman. It effectively debunks the mythology and supposition that's grown in the previous information vacuum. You probably need to be a fan of the blues or pre-war black musical history to appreciate this telling. You'll certainly come out of it well informed and wanting to revisit his recordings. Another valuable and informative book worth exploring is 'Escaping the Delta' by Elijah Wald. Well narrated.

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  • Mr Robert Stocks
  • 11-22-19

well put together

Great to hear the facts and myths of such a mysterious historical figure put together in a such a way that believably fleshes him out. It will never be able to give all the answers but its the best narrative of his story that exists to date.
Really well narrated too.

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  • Colin McGrath
  • 07-11-19

spectacular

loved it from start till end. interested in the subject matter for yes and truely helped fill in the blanks

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  • Paul Thew
  • 06-22-21

A must read for all interested in the blues

a very well researched book that still leaves a window of mystique.
To have found so much information from a time now long ago, the author has excelled in bringing new truths to the legend.
I started out wondering if this book would spoil the myth and am truly delighted and inspired in the learnings as a result of his impressive investigation and writings.