Is it really Robert Johnson in this photo? The photograph bought on eBay by Zeke Schein, who believes it depicts Robert Johnson, left, and fellow bluesman Johnny Shines.
Portrait of a Phantom
Searching for Robert Johnson
by Frank DiGiacomo November 2008
In the seven decades since his mysterious death, bluesman Robert Johnson’s legend has grown—the tragically short life, the “crossroads” tale of supernatural talent, the genuine gift that inspired Dylan, Clapton, and other greats—but his image remains elusive: only two photos of Johnson have ever been seen by the public.
In 2005, on eBay, guitar maven Zeke Schein thought he’d found a third. Schein’s quest to authenticate the picture only led to more questions, both about Johnson himself and about who controls his valuable legacy.