Netflix’s ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads premiered on the streaming platform on April 26. The documentary follows legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson who was an itinerant performer until he died mysteriously at the age of 27.
He was said to have acquired his virtuoso guitar skills through a pact with the Devil.
Johnson did not achieve much commercial success during his life but the evidence of his virtuoso guitar skills is preserved in two recordings from 1936 and 1937.
Interest in his work after his death led to his posthumous recognition as a master of the blues and the progenitor of the distinctive Delta blues style.
Some describe him as “the most important blues singer that ever lived.”
Netflix’s documentary film on Robert Johnson’s life and music career is co-created by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist. The documentary is directed by Brian Oakes and stars Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, and Bonnie Raitt.
Jeff and Michael Zimbalist co-executive produce with Irving Azoff, Sudi Khosropur, Stu Schreiberg, and Stuart Sender.
Netflix released the trailer for ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads on April 22.
What is ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads about?
ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads follows the career of the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson who in the early ’30s was an obscure musician and juke performer in Mississippi.
After he mysteriously disappeared for about a year and a half, Johnson resurfaced with virtuoso guitar skills and began to do things with the guitar “that even his mentors can’t do.”
Rumors began spreading among rural folk in the Mississippi Delta that Johnson acquired his virtuoso skills through a pact with the Devil. According to folklore, one night he placed his guitar in the middle of a crossroads near a cemetery and called on the Devil to gift him with unmatched guitar skills.
The Devil appeared to him and they reached a deal that required him to trade his soul in exchange for virtuoso guitar-picking skills. The deal with the Devil, according to folklore, meant that he was granted only a few years to live.
Johnson’s sudden and mysterious death at the age of 27 only helped to establish the legend about the supposed sinister source of his guitar playing skills.
Netflix’s ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads looks at more than just the folklore surrounding the source of Johnson’s special skills and the mysterious circumstances of his death.
The documentary also takes a close look at his short, mystery-cloaked and troubled life as well as the influence of his style in the subsequent history of American music, especially blues, jazz, and rock & roll.
Johnson was posthumously awarded a Grammy in 1991 for a compilation of his songs, The Complete Recordings (1990). In 1998, one of Johnson’s songs, Cross Road Blues, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.