This book by Blues scholar Gayle Dean Wardlow reveals the stories behind the great Blues pioneers, some in their own words. As a Mississippi journalist, Wardlow began searching the Delta in the early 1960s for obscure Blues 78s. From those days of door-to-door canvassing, he began to assemble a history of the Delta Blues of legends like Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, Skip James, and Bukka White to the lesser-known like Ishmon Bracey, Booker Miller, Willie Moore, King Solomon Hill, and others. The book contains Wardlow’s account of knocking on doors looking for those 78s, a reprint of his interview with H.C. Speir, the legendary Delta talent scout, Ledell Johnson’s memories of his brother Tommy Johnson, and a full chapter on tips and leads as Wardlow searched out Robert Johnson’s death certificate and the rumor that Charley Patton was murdered. One chapter is devoted to the popularity of Robert Johnson’s crossroads myth. Editor Edward Komara lists all of Johnson’s 29 recorded songs and then tells the reader about the songs, like showing that ‘Love In Vain’ is a direct descendent of Leroy Carr’s ‘When The Sun Goes Down.’ There is also a CD included that contains music from Wardlow’s private collection of 78s and pieces of interviews.

— (Blues Foundation press release, 2006.)