Blind Willie Johnson

Also known asBlind Willie, Blind Texas Marlin, The Blind Pilgrim
BornJanuary 25, 1897
Pendleton, Texas, U.S.
DiedSeptember 18, 1945 (aged 48)
Beaumont, Texas
GenresGospelgospel blues
InstrumentsSlide guitarguitar
Years active1920s–1945

Willie Johnson was not born blind, and it is not known how he became blind. But legend holds that his stepmother threw lye in his face when he was 7, in retaliation for fighting his father. Johnson’s daughter Sam Faye Kelly said she could remember him singing in the kitchen and reciting passages from the Bible. She was still very young when he “went away.” Johnson’s song “Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)” was put on the spaceship Voyager 1 in 1977, so aliens can listen to his music too.