Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
African-American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. Born in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, he grew up absorbing the music of Delta bluesmen, first learning the harmonica and then mastering the guitar. He left home in 1930 and traveled the country, playing and singing at parties, juke joints, barrellhouses, and other venues. In San Antonio (1936) and Dallas (1937) he recorded 29 blues songs, but a year later he was poisoned by a jealous husband. Six of Johnson's blues songs mention the devil or some form of the supernatural. Though all that remains of his legendary work are those Texas recordings, Johnson's influence has been a big influence on later blues players and on rock and rollers including Led Zepplin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, U2, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
It is a popular urban legend that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his talent. The Coen Brothers' film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, explores this concept with a character of Johnson.
It was actually Robert Johnson's friend, Tommy Johnson who made that claim though. See here: http://www.luckymojo.com/crossroads.html