This Historic Day In Music: November 23, 1936, The Gunter Hotel, Rm.414, San Antonio, Texas

They had travelled from Mississippi to Texas, the young black man with a guitar and the older, white buisness man. Years later, people along their route would still remember this unusual sight.

The business man was Ernie Oertle, a talent scout who covered the Southern region of the country for ARC Records. H.C.Speir, a Jackson, Mississippi-based record store owner and successful talent scout, had first auditioned the young Blues musician and passed his name on to Oertle. Oertle liked what he heard in the test recording that Speir had made and got in touch with the young man, inviting him to go with him to San Antonio for a recording session.

At the Gunter Hotel, A& R man Don Law and recording engineer Art Satherley had set up a make shift recording studio in two adjoining rooms. They had a machine that recorded directly onto aluminum disks, with about three minutes of recording time per side.

At today’s session, the young Blues singer/guitarist/songwriter recorded eight songs: “Terraplane Blues,” “Come On In My Kitchen,” “Kind Hearted Woman Blues,” “When You Got a Good Friend,” “Ramblin’ On My Mind,” “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Phonograph Blues.”

The young Blues musician recorded at the Gunter again on November 26 and 27.

“Terraplane Blues” b/w “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” were released on the Vocalion label in March of 1937. The 78-rpm record sold well enough for another recording session to be booked and the young Blues musician recorded again, this time in Dallas, Texas, on June 19 & 20, 1937.

The young Blues musician recorded a total of 29 songs or sides in his recording career.

But when you look at the list of songs recorded at his first session, on this day, November 23, in 1936, Robert Johnson would still be considered the King of the Delta Blues Singers.

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2 Responses to This Historic Day In Music: November 23, 1936, The Gunter Hotel, Rm.414, San Antonio, Texas

  1. TPS says:

    And a well deserved title…. Look at those songs…how many artists have covered them over the past 70 years? Countless.
    As limited as the recordings are, Johnson’s voice is haunting; you know after listening that he “lived the life”. Too bad it was cut short so early.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Jonathan Gray says:

    Sorry this is off topic, but I thought you’d appreciate this. I’ve heard you play several times, and today I heard a song that I had to do a triple-take because I thought it was you.

    The type of song, the sound of the guitar and the style of the performer all reminded me of you. Ever hear of “Old City Bar”? There may be multiple versions but believe it or not this one is by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This track wasn’t really the orchestra, just a guy and his guitar.

    The song has a definite message, and most of the songs I’ve heard you perform have a message as well. Whoever is singing performs the song more as a story-teller than a singer and I think you can do that as well. Finally the way the guitar sounded was much like stuff I’ve heard from you. The guitar sounded like it was being “picked” and not strummed – if that makes any sense. I notice the way when you sing, not every word always matches up with a note on the guitar (I hope that makes sense because it is a complement because I love how it sounds). This song does that as well. For example there are brief periods where there are lyrics and no music.

    Either way – if you’ve heard the song or not, you’ve got someone else thinking of music as more than something where you just hit play.


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