On November 23, 1936 Robert Johnson created the template for electric blues, which became rock-and-roll, in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. You’ll pass the Gunter, which opened in 1909, on the Friday Friendship Walk: it’s on E. Houston St., across from the Majestic Theatre.
Johnson cut eight tracks for the American Recording Company in a makeshift studio that day, including “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and “Sweet Home Chicago,” both of which became classics. Eric Clapton calls Johnson “the greatest blues singer who ever lived,” and he’s ranked as #5 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of all time greatest guitarists. Not familiar with his songs? Listen to “Come On in My Kitchen.” one of the tracks recorded here:
In the lobby there’s a historical plaque dedicated by the San Antonio Blues Society in 2001 that commemorates the Johnson sessions. The group also maintains two window boxes with Johnson photos and album art. Bar 414, the hotel’s speakeasy-themed lounge, is decorated with abstract photos of Johnson and names some of its cocktails after Johnson’s classic blues numbers. Try “Come On In My Kitchen” (gin and grapefruit.)
And yes, you can rent the room — 414 is a parlor with an adjoining bedroom.