John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker was born outside Clarksdale Mississippi on August 22nd, 1917 in the heart of the delta. The son of a sharecropper he discovered the delta blues at an early age. He learned guitar from his stepfather Will Moore who played along the likes of Charlie Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He left home at 14 and made his way up to Memphis Tennesee working odd jobs and honing his technique. He eventually landed a factory job in Detroit and played in clubs at night. T-bone Walker gave him his first electric guitar. In 1948 he recorded “Boogie Chillen’ which sold over a million copies. This song was to become the blueprint for most of his later recordings. Some of his better known songs were “Boom Boom”,”one bourbon,one scotch,one beer”,”I’m in the mood”,”crawling king snake” and “dimples”. Hooker invented what was to be coined as the “Boogie-woogie riff”. This riff can be most identified with ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and Canned Heat’s “Hockey Boogie”. He was revered by rock musicians who covered his tunes. George Thorogood, The Allman Brothers, The Animals, The Doors and a host of other groups all had a hooker tune in their bag. Led Zeppelin would even borrow phrases and some “hooks” from the hook. In 1970 John Lee Hooker recorded a 2 record set with Canned Heat called “Hooker N Heat”. Most of the tunes were the Hook alone plugged into a Silvertone amp and a piece of plywood to do his stomping with Canned Heat providing ocassional backing and Al Wilson’s harmonica. In 1989 during the Steel Wheels tour Hooker was invited to perform in the pay per view broadcast of the Stones concert held in Atlantic City which also featured Eric Clapton and Axl Rose. Hooker was 72 years old and the Stones quite didn’t know what to expect. As “The Hook” hit the stage Ron Wood leaned over and told him “just play anything”, but before he could finish “The Hook” launched into “Boogie Chillen” setting the boogie tempo for the band to follow. The hook pulled out all the stops not missing a beat and showcased his famous index finger strum which he raked up and down the strings. The Hook also had a bit part in the 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers”. On June 21st, 2001 John Lee Hooker died in his sleep at the age of 83, signaling the end of one of the last remaining blues legends

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