Robert Lockwood Jr., the Mississippi Delta bluesman who was taught by Robert Johnson and became a mentor to generations of blues musicians, died on Tuesday in Cleveland, where he lived. He was 91.
The cause was respiratory failure, said his wife, Mary Smith Lockwood. Mr. Lockwood had been hospitalized since suffering a brain aneurysm on Nov. 3.
Mr. Lockwood considered himself Johnson's stepson, since Johnson had a decade-long romance with his mother. For long stretches of his career, he called himself Robert Jr. Lockwood to acknowledge Johnson's influence.
Mr. Lockwood carried the music of the Mississippi Delta to other emerging blues scenes. He performed on the pioneering blues radio show "King Biscuit Time." He gave B. B. King guitar lessons. He became a studio musician at Chess Records and played on sessions that defined electric Chicago blues and went on to shape rock 'n' roll. Although he could play in the old Delta style, he embraced blues from across the United States and drew strongly on the harmonies and phrasing of jazz.
"I never did want to sound like anybody else," he said in a 2001 interview with the Big Road Blues Web site. "What I play sounds easy, but you just try it. It's not easy."