Third Known Photo of Blues Legend Robert Johnson Unveiled

The photo will serve as the cover for Johnson's stepsister's forthcoming memoir

The cover of "Brother Robert"
The cover of "Brother Robert"
Hachette Books
By Bonnie Stiernberg / May 21, 2020 12:08 pm

The third known photograph of blues guitar legend Robert Johnson has been unveiled. The picture will serve as the cover image for Brother Robert: Growing Up With Robert Johnson, a forthcoming memoir from the musician’s 94-year-old stepsister, Annye Anderson.

The picture, which you can see in full below, was taken by Johnson himself in a nickel portrait booth in Memphis when he was 25 or 26. As Variety notes, Johnson appears “full of a warmth and joy that seem against type for a bluesman, his fingers forming a chord on the neck of his guitar. Indeed, the photo is as much a portrait of the instrument as it is of the artist, the guitar lovingly framed front and center by a man for whom the music was everything. It is a selfie from another age, and perhaps the best nickel ever spent.”

Brother Robert: Growing Up With Robert Johnson, which Anderson co-wrote with Preston Lauterbach, will be released by Hachette on June 9. In an excerpt from the book shared with Variety, Anderson notes that the photo depicts Johnson the way she prefers to remember him. “It shows Brother Robert the way I remember him — open, kind, and generous,” she wrote. “He doesn’t look like the man of all the legends, the man described as a drunkard and a fighter by people who didn’t really know him. This is my Brother Robert.”

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