John Lee Hooker
Hooker performing at the Long Beach Blues Festival, Long Beach, California, August 31, 1997
|Born|| August 22, 1917 |
Tutwiler, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||June 21, 2001 (aged 83)|
Los Altos, California
John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917– June 21, 2001) was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. The son of a sharecropper, he rose to prominence performing an electric guitar-style adaptation of Delta blues. Hooker often incorporated other elements, including talking blues and early North Mississippi Hill country blues. He developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style, distinct from the 1930s–1940s piano-derived boogie-woogie.
Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and the folk music of white Americans of European heritage. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds or fifths flattened in pitch, are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.
Sharecropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range of different situations and types of agreements that have used a form of the system. Some are governed by tradition, and others by law. Legal contract systems such as the Italian mezzadria, the French métayage, the Spanish mediero, the Slavic połowcy,издoльщина or the Islamic system of muqasat, occur widely.
Delta blues is one of the earliest-known styles of blues music. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, a region of the United States stretching from Memphis, Tennessee, in the north to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the south and from Helena, Arkansas, in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. The Mississippi Delta is famous for its fertile soil and for its poverty. Delta blues is regarded as a regional variant of country blues. Guitar and harmonica are its dominant instruments; slide guitar is a hallmark of the style. Vocal styles in Delta blues range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.
Some of his best known songs include "Boogie Chillen'" (1948), "Crawling King Snake" (1949), "Dimples" (1956), "Boom Boom" (1962), and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" (1966). Several of his later albums, including The Healer (1989), Mr. Lucky (1991), Chill Out (1995), and Don't Look Back (1997), were album chart successes in the U.S. and U.K. The Healer (for the song "I'm In The Mood") and Chill Out (for the album) both earned him Grammy winsas well as Don't Look Back, which went on to earn him a double-Grammy win for Best Traditional Blues Recording and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (with Van Morrison).
"Boogie Chillen'" or "Boogie Chillun" is a blues song first recorded by John Lee Hooker in 1948. It is a solo performance featuring Hooker's vocal, electric guitar, and rhythmic foot stomps. The lyrics are partly autobiographical and alternate between spoken and sung verses. The song was his debut record release and in 1949, it became the first "down-home" electric blues song to reach number one in the R&B records chart.
"Crawling King Snake" is a blues song that has been recorded by numerous blues and other artists. It is believed to have originated as a Delta blues in the 1920s and be related to earlier songs, such as "Black Snake Blues" by Victoria Spivey and "Black Snake Moan" by Blind Lemon Jefferson.
"Dimples" is a song written and recorded by blues singer-songwriter John Lee Hooker in 1956. It is an ensemble piece, with Hooker accompanied by Jimmy Reed's backup band. Eight years after its first release, it became Hooker's first record to appear in the British record charts. Called a "genuine Hooker classic" by music critic Bill Dahl, it is one of his best-known songs, with interpretations by several artists.
Hooker's date of birth is a subject of debate; the years 1912, 1915, 1917, 1920, and 1923 have been suggested. Most sources give 1917, though at times Hooker stated he was born in 1920. Information in the 1920 and 1930 censuses indicates that he was born in 1912.In 2017, a series of events took place to celebrate the purported centenary of his birth. In the 1920 federal census, John Hooker is seven years old and one of nine children living with William and Minnie Hooker in Tutwiler Mississippi.
It is believed that he was born in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in Tallahatchie County, although some sources say his birthplace was near Clarksdale, in Coahoma County. 23), which gives additional credibility to this census record as evidence of Hooker's origins.He was the youngest of the 11 children of William Hooker (born 1871, died after 1923), a sharecropper and Baptist preacher, and Minnie Ramsey (born c. 1880, date of death unknown). In the 1920 federal census, William and Minnie were recorded as being 48 and 39 years old, respectively, which implies that Minnie was born about 1880, not 1875. She was said to have been a "decade or so younger" than her husband (Boogie Man, p.
Tutwiler is a town in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, United States. The population at the 2010 census was 3,550.
Clarksdale is a city in Coahoma County, Mississippi, United States, and seat of the county.
The Hooker children were homeschooled. They were permitted to listen only to religious songs; the spirituals sung in church were their earliest exposure to music. In 1921, their parents separated. The next year, their mother married William Moore, a blues singer, who provided John Lee with an introduction to the guitar (and whom he would later credit for his distinctive playing style).
Homeschooling, also known as home education is the education of children at home or a variety of other places. Home education is usually conducted by a parent or tutor or online teacher. Many families use less formal ways of educating. "Homeschooling" is the term commonly used in North America, whereas "home education" is commonly used in the United Kingdom, Europe, and in many Commonwealth countries.
Moore was his first significant blues influence. He was a local blues guitarist who, in Shreveport, Louisiana, learned to play a droning, one-chord blues that was strikingly different from the Delta blues of the time.
Shreveport is a city in the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is the most populous city in the Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area. Shreveport ranks third in population in Louisiana after New Orleans and Baton Rouge and 126th in the U.S. The bulk of Shreveport is in Caddo Parish, of which it is the parish seat. Shreveport extends along the west bank of the Red River into neighboring Bossier Parish. The population of Shreveport was 199,311 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. The United States Census Bureau's 2017 estimate for the city's population decreased to 192,036.
Another influence was Tony Hollins, who dated Hooker's sister Alice, helped teach Hooker to play, and gave him his first guitar. For the rest of his life, Hooker regarded Hollins as a formative influence on his style of playing and his career as a musician. Among the songs that Hollins reputedly taught Hooker were versions of "Crawlin' King Snake" and "Catfish Blues".
At the age of 14, Hooker ran away from home, reportedly never seeing his mother or stepfather again.In the mid-1930s, he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, where he performed on Beale Street, at the New Daisy Theatre and occasionally at house parties.
He worked in factories in various cities during World War II, eventually getting a job with the Ford Motor Company in Detroit in 1943. He frequented the blues clubs and bars on Hastings Street, the heart of the black entertainment district, on Detroit's east side. In a city noted for its pianists, guitar players were scarce. Hooker's popularity grew quickly as he performed in Detroit clubs, and, seeking an instrument louder than his acoustic guitar, he bought his first electric guitar.
Hooker was working as janitor in a Detroit steel mill when his recording career began in 1948,when Modern Records, based in Los Angeles, released a demo he had recorded for Bernie Besman in Detroit. The single, "Boogie Chillen'", became a hit and the best-selling race record of 1949. Despite being illiterate, Hooker was a prolific lyricist. In addition to adapting traditional blues lyrics, he composed original songs. In the 1950s, like many black musicians, Hooker earned little from record sales, and so he often recorded variations of his songs for different studios for an up-front fee. To evade his recording contract, he used various pseudonyms, including John Lee Booker (for Chess Records and Chance Records in 1951–1952), Johnny Lee (for De Luxe Records in 1953–1954), John Lee, John Lee Cooker, Texas Slim, Delta John, Birmingham Sam and his Magic Guitar, Johnny Williams, and the Boogie Man.
His early solo songs were recorded by Bernie Besman.Hooker rarely played with a standard beat, but instead he changed tempo to fit the needs of the song. This often made it difficult to use backing musicians, who were not accustomed to Hooker's musical vagaries. As a result, Besman recorded Hooker playing guitar, singing and stomping on a wooden pallet in time with the music.
For much of this period he recorded and toured with Eddie Kirkland. In Hooker's later sessions for Vee-Jay Records in Chicago, studio musicians accompanied him on most of his recordings, including Eddie Taylor, who could handle his musical idiosyncrasies. "Boom Boom" (1962)and "Dimples", two popular songs by Hooker, were originally released by Vee-Jay.
Beginning in 1962, Hooker gained greater exposure when he toured Europe in the annual American Folk Blues Festival.His "Dimples" became a successful single on the UK Singles Charts in 1964, eight years after its first US release. Hooker began to perform and record with rock musicians. One of his earliest collaborations was with British blues rock band the Groundhogs. In 1970, he recorded the joint album Hooker 'n Heat , with the American blues and boogie rock group Canned Heat, whose repertoire included adaptations of Hooker songs. It became the first of Hooker's albums to reach the Billboard charts, peaking at number 78 on the Billboard 200. Other collaboration albums soon followed, including Endless Boogie (1971) and Never Get Out of These Blues Alive (1972), which included Steve Miller, Elvin Bishop, Van Morrison, and others.
Hooker appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers . He performed "Boom Boom" in the role of a street musician. In 1989, he recorded the album The Healer with Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, and others. The 1990s saw additional collaboration albums: Mr. Lucky (1991), Chill Out (1995), and Don't Look Back (1997) with Morrison, Santana, Los Lobos, and additional guest musicians. His re-recording of "Boom Boom" (the title track for his 1992 album) with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan became Hooker's highest charting single (number 16) in the UK.Come See About Me , a 2004 DVD, includes performances filmed between 1960 and 1994 and interviews with several of the musicians.
Hooker owned five houses in his later life, including houses located in Los Altos, California; Redwood City, California; and Long Beach, California.
Hooker died in his sleep on June 21, 2001, in Los Altos, California in his home.He is interred at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California. He was survived by eight children, 19 grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren.
Among his many awards, Hooker was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980,and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Two of his songs, "Boogie Chillen" and "Boom Boom", are included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll"."Boogie Chillen" is also included in the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the "Songs of the Century".
In 2007, John Lee Hooker was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
A-side / B-side
| US 100 || US R&B || UK Singles |
|1948||"Boogie Chillen'" / "Sally May"||Modern 627||—||1||—|
|1949||"Hobo Blues" / "Hoogie Boogie"||Modern 663||—||5 / 9||—|
|"Crawlin' King Snake" / "Drifting from Door to Door"||Modern 714||—||6||—|
|1950||"Huckle Up Baby" / "Canal Street Blues"||Sensation 26||—||15||—|
|1951||"I'm in the Mood" / "How Can You Do It"||Modern 835||30||1||—|
|1958||"I Love You Honey" / "You've Taken My Woman"||Vee-Jay 293||—||29||—|
|1960||"No Shoes" / "Solid Sender"||Vee-Jay 349||—||21||—|
|1962||"Boom Boom" / "Drug Store Woman"||Vee-Jay 483||60||14||—|
|1964||"Dimples" / "I'm Leaving"||$tateside SS 297||—||—||23|
|1992||"Boom Boom" / "Homework"|| Point Blank/|
Virgin POB 3
|1993||"Boogie at Russian Hill" / "The Blues Will Never Die"||Point Blank/|
Virgin POB 4
|"Gloria" (remake) / "It Must Be You"||Exile VANS 11||—||—||31|
|1995||"Chill Out (Things Gonna Change)" /|
Virgin POB 10
|1998||"Baby Lee" (remake) / "Cuttin' Out" (remake) /|
|Silvertone ORE CD 21||—||—||65|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart|
| US 200 || US Blues || UK Albums |
|1967||House of the Blues||Marble Arch MAL 663||—||—||34|
|1971||Hooker 'n Heat||Liberty LST-35002||73||—||—|
|Endless Boogie||ABC ABCD-720||126||38||—|
|1972||Never Get Out of These Blues Alive||ABC ABCX-736||130||—||—|
|1989||The Healer||Chameleon D2-74808||62||—||63|
|1991||Mr. Lucky|| Point Blank/|
|1995||Chill Out||Point Blank/|
Virgin 7243 8 40107 2 0
|1997||Don't Look Back||Point Blank/|
Virgin 7243 8 42771 2 3
|1998||The Best of Friends||Point Blank/|
Virgin 7243 8 46424 2 6
|2002||Winning Combinations: John Lee Hooker & Muddy Waters||Universal 008811264628||—||6||—|
|2004||Face to Face||Eagle ER 20023-2||—||3||—|
|2007||Hooker (box set)||Shout! Factory 826663-10198||—||14||—|
|2015||Two Sides of John Lee Hooker||Concord 888072375970||—||12||—|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart|
The Memphis blues is a style of blues music created from the 1910s to the 1930s by musicians in the Memphis area, like Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis and Memphis Minnie. The style was popular in vaudeville and medicine shows and was associated with Beale Street, the main entertainment area in Memphis, W. C. Handy, the "Father of the Blues", published the song "The Memphis Blues". In lyrics, the phrase has been used to describe a depressed mood.
Electric blues refers to any type of blues music distinguished by the use of electric amplification for musical instruments. The guitar was the first instrument to be popularly amplified and used by early pioneers T-Bone Walker in the late 1930s and John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters in the 1940s. Their styles developed into West Coast blues, Detroit blues, and post-World War II Chicago blues, which differed from earlier, predominantly acoustic-style blues. By the early 1950s, Little Walter was a featured soloist on blues harmonica or blues harp using a small hand-held microphone fed into a guitar amplifier. Although it took a little longer, the electric bass guitar gradually replaced the stand-up bass by the early 1960s. Electric organs and especially keyboards later became widely used in electric blues.
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Charley Patton, also known as Charlie Patton, was an American Delta blues musician. Considered by many to be the "Father of the Delta Blues", he created an enduring body of American music and inspired most Delta blues musicians. The musicologist Robert Palmer considered him one of the most important American musicians of the twentieth century.
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Hooker 'n Heat is a double album released by blues musician John Lee Hooker and blues-rock band Canned Heat in early 1971. It was the last studio album to feature harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter Alan Wilson, who died in September 1970 from a drug overdose. The photo on the album cover was taken after Wilson's death, but his picture can be seen in a frame on the wall behind John Lee Hooker. Guitarist Henry Vestine was also missing from the photo session. The person standing in front of the window, filling in for Henry, is the band's manager, Skip Taylor. Careful examination of the photo reveals that Henry's face was later added by the art department. Although featured on the cover, vocalist Bob Hite does not sing on the album.
"Boom Boom" is a song written by American blues singer/guitarist John Lee Hooker and recorded in 1961. Although a blues song, music critic Charles Shaar Murray calls it "the greatest pop song he ever wrote". "Boom Boom" was both an American R&B and pop chart success in 1962 as well as placing in the UK Singles Chart in 1992.
Mr. Lucky is a 1991 album by American blues singer, songwriter and guitarist John Lee Hooker. Produced by Ry Cooder, Roy Rogers and Carlos Santana under the executive production of Mike Kappus, the album featured musicians including Keith Richards, Blues Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Winter; and three inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Van Morrison, Booker T. Jones and Johnnie Johnson. Released on Virgin Records, including on its imprint label Classic Records, Mr. Lucky peaked at #101 on the "Billboard 200".
John Lee Hooker was an American blues singer and guitarist who recorded from 1948 to 2001. His discography includes recordings issued by various record companies in different formats.
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