Clarksdale resembles any American ghetto. But the crossroads mark the heart of flourishing blues tourism. The intersection of Highways 61 and 49 are the legendary Crossroads where bluesman, Tommy Johnson claimed to have met a tall black man. He tuned Johnson's guitar so he could play better than everyone else, but this man was the devil, and the price for this talent was his soul.
Robert Johnson wrote Crossroad Blues, where he penned the verse "Sun goin' down boy, dark gon' catch me here." It typified the fear of the crossroads in the Delta after nightfall. According to folklore, Robert Johnson also sealed his fate at this very location,by having the devil tune his guitar, and give him blues virtuosity.
|The Riverside Hotel|
|Frank Ratliff, introduced himself to me, and invited me in for a tour of his historic hotel. On September 26, 1937, Bessie Smith died in room #2 from a car accident on Highway 61 when the place was the G.T. Thomas Hospital. In 1944, Franks mother took control and converted the building into a hotel. Along the narrow hallway, black and white photographs of blues atrists graced the wall, as though the old hotel were an unofficial, Blues Hall Of Fame. Ike turner wrote and rehearsed his song Rocket 88 here. Other notable blues artists and guests were Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke, Martin Luther King, and in 1991 John F. Kennedy Jr. stayed here. It's a simple hotel, and the rooms are small, but spotless with laminated hardwood floors. The hotel has a Blues Trail marker in front of it.|