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House was interviewed at a time when the legend of Johnson's pact with the devil was well known among blues researchers.He was asked whether he attributed Johnson's technique to this pact, and his equivocal answers have been taken as confirmation.
Biographers have looked for consistency from musicians who knew Johnson in different contexts: Shines, who traveled extensively with him; Lockwood, who knew him as his mother's partner; David "Honeyboy" Edwards, whose cousin Willie Mae Powell had a relationship with Johnson.
Johnson's shadowy and poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend.
One Faustian myth says that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads of Mississippi highways to achieve success.
In the 1920 census he is listed as Robert Spencer, living in Lucas, Arkansas, with Will and Julia Willis. suggests that he was relatively well educated for a boy of his background.
A school friend, Willie Coffee, who was interviewed and filmed in later life, recalled that as a youth Robert was already noted for playing the harmonica and jaw harp.