Robert Lockwood Jr.
Updated: Aug 14, 2018
It was a cold January evening when Robert Lockwood Jr. came to my photo studio for a portrait session creating the cover of his Delta Crossroads album for Telarc Records. I had had the idea to photograph Robert on location at night by a train or bus station but the bitterness of that year's winter negated it. Studio bound we were to depict the man behind the solo striped down spartan collection of Delta Blues.
The conversation between us was easy since Robert had recognized me from venues around town where live music still existed, particularly the Blues. I remember one such evening we crossed paths. A young singer came over to Robert asking what he thought of his performance... Robert had replied, "You got to sing from your heart not your head". Robert's assessment denoting a marked difference when something is done with real passion rather than performing how one 'thinks' they should. Robert, the real deal.
During our photography session we discussed guitar playing and Lockwood's history within the world of blues music. Although not widely known, Lockwood was sought after by big name musicians such as Eric Clapton and others who wanted to learn authentic Blues riffs. Lockwood laughing, "they called me Professor M-therFcker", a loving yet gritty reference given by his inner circle.
Lockwood had learned to play guitar from Robert Johnson, from whom he also picked up his impeccable timing and stage presence. Traveling through out the south playing music, it wasn't until 1960 that Lockwood moved to Cleveland where he continued to play regularly. At 60 years old, Lockwood discovered the twelve string guitar playing it almost exclusively until he passed in 2006 at the age of 91. A student of the guitar and Blues until his final curtain call, "Robert Junior" Lockwood made his life a soundtrack we can journey along with learning from the Professor!
about the author: Karen Ollis is an experienced photographer specializing in studio portraiture, and environmental on-location portraits for editorial stories, PR and marketing testimonials. instagram @ollisphoto