"The Blues: History & Music"


Robert Johnson's Album

Robert Johnson Hotel Room at the Gunter Hotel. 

Pictures courtesy of Professor William Harrington





"San Antonio Texas:  This is the place of Robert johnson's first recording. The recording sessions were done at the Gunter Hotel.

The Gunter Hotel is now run by Sheraton and has been nicely restored into a historic four star hotel in downtown San Antonio. Across the street is the equally historic Majestic Theatre.  Both were built in 1909. The Sheraton Gunter Hotel was indeed aware of its connection to Johnson.  The hotel has a Robert Johnson's  exhibit just inside the main front doors. 

There is a large historic plaque that describes the Gunter Hotel's role as a recording site for the American Record Company (ARC). ARC recorded much folk music in the 30's including "hillbilly, blues, jazz, and Mexican ethnic music."  The plaque describes Johnson's three recording sessions made at the Gunter and his influence on later generations including Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Eric Clapton.  Finally, the plaque states that Johnson was one of the first five people inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Robert Johnson's exhibit contains two window cases that contain his memorabilia.  This first window contains one of the two known photos of Johnson, the so called, "Photo Booth Self Portrait;" and a poster with the same photo from the San Antonio Blues Society celebrating the "S.A. sessions." Of greatest interest is an original front jacket cover of a record released in 1960. The cover is a painting of an artist's interpretation of Johnson recording in the Gunter Hotel room.  He is shown seated facing the microphone in the corner of the room. His back is to the room next door where the sound engineers Art Satherly and Don Law sat.  Notice the windows of the room.  They are rounded at the top.  This matches Guralnick's quote of Law, saying that they had to hang curtains over the rounded windows of the Mezzanine windows to block out the street noise of Houston Street below.  Overall, the primitive style of the painting gives the effect of the idealistic simple and rural image of Johnson that so greatly fascinated the bohemian rock and roll musicians of England in the 60s.   

Robert Johnson albums: This window contained a very valuable and rare laquer record of Johnson's "Terraplane Blues," Johnson's most successful song recorded at the Gunter.  Showing its value, the record had originally been found cracked, but had been carefully repaired to not skip or repeat when played.  Also included was only the label from another Johnson record "Come On in My Kitchen," recorded at the Gunter as well.  This window also contained the only other known photograph of Johnson known as the 'Robert Johnson Studio Portrait, Hooks Bros', and the album jacket from the 1970's release of Johnson's complete recordings, which is titled "King of the Delta Blues".     

One meeting room on the third floor was named the 'Robert Johnson Room,'  presumably the original location of the recordings."

                                       Prof. William Harrington

Blues Guitar

"The Blues: History and Music" is an Educational Site Designed and Edited by Prof. Sylvia Constantinidis.