By Steve “Red” Lasner

Much controversy has arisen about whether or not the recordings of Robert Johnson we have been listening to for years were speed altered. Some musicologists are convinced Johnson’s released recordings are 20% faster than those he performed in two solo sessions in 1936 and 1937, and they wonder how this happened, when it happened, and why it happened.

Many blame advances in technology, some claim it to be a conscious decision made during the mastering process, and others claim that there actually is no speed alteration. If the recordings indeed were sped up by 20%, slowing them down would result in a significant change in pitch and tempo that would have a serious impact on the history of the blues and all of the music and musicians influenced by Johnson. Is it possible that we have never heard what this very influential singer-guitarist truly sounded like?

You be the judge:

“Crossroad Blues” – Fast (original):

“Crossroad Blues” – Slow (revised):

Steve “Red” Lasner has rubbed elbows and performed with many great and famous musicians including Buddy Miles, John Sebastian, Derek Trucks, Robben Ford and many more. In 2009 TrueFire released Red’s first instructional guitar course Blues Expose. Red continues to perform locally, nationally and internationally and continues to produce instructional material.