Crystal Springs in Copiah County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Mississippi Blues Trail Marker
Tommy Johnson was a pioneer in Mississippi blues whose songs and distinctive falsetto moan were adopted by many of his contemporaries and followers. He was born in 1896 on a plantation between Crystal Springs and Terry and was one of eleven children. Johnson learned to play guitar from his older brother LeDell (1892–1972) and as a young teen ran away to the Delta. He returned two years later an accomplished performer, which, according to LeDell, Johnson attributed to a meeting with a mysterious figure at a crossroads. The story, which involved Johnson handing over his guitar to a large black man who tuned it for him, predates the similar and more famous tale of the (unrelated) bluesman Robert Johnson (1911-1938) selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads.
In 1916 Johnson moved back to the Delta with LeDell and their wives, settling
Although Johnson did not record after 1930, reportedly due to issues with his rights, he remained a popular performer in Crystal Springs and Jackson, and his influence is evident in the commercial recordings of Kokomo Arnold, the Mississippi Sheiks, Howliní Wolf, K. C. Douglas, Floyd Jones, and Robert Nighthawk. Musicologist David Evans, author of two books on the blues tradition associated with Johnson, also documented Johnsonís local influence through field recordings of Babe Stovall, Arzo Youngblood, Mott Willis, Roosevelt Holts, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Bill Webb. Johnsonís final performance was at a party in Crystal Springs.
Erected 2007 by Mississippi Blues Commission.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 31° 59.249′ N, 90° 21.506′ W. Marker is in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, in Copiah County. Marker is at the intersection of West Railroad Avenue and West Georgetown Street, on the right when traveling south on West Railroad Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Crystal Springs MS 39059, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bus-Train Collision of 1942 (within shouting distance of this marker); Robert Johnson (approx. 9 miles away); Hazelhurst (approx. 9.1 miles away); Robert Johnson Birthplace (approx. 9.1 miles away); Mrs. Annie Coleman Peyton (approx. 9.1 miles away).
Categories. • African Americans • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 25, 2011, by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. This page has been viewed 485 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 25, 2011, by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?