John Lee Hooker

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John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker at the Long Beach Blues Festival, 1997
Background information
Born August 22, 1917(1917-08-22)
Coahoma County, Mississippi
Died June 21, 2001(2001-06-21) (aged 83)
Genres Blues
Occupations singer-songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1948-2001
Labels Vee-Jay, Chess Records and others
Website johnleehooker.com

John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001) was an American blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter born in Coahoma County near Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Biography[change | edit source]

Early life[change | edit source]

Hooker was born on August 22, 1917[1] in Coahoma County near Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was born to William Hooker and Minnie Ramsey and was the youngest of eleven children. He and his siblings were home-schooled and they were only allowed to listen to religious songs. His parents separated in 1921 and his mother married William Moore, a blues singer the next year. Moore introduced Hooker to the guitar. John would later credit Moore for his distinctive playing style.

Later life[change | edit source]

All through the 1930s, Hooker lived in Memphis where he worked on Beale Street and sometimes performed at house parties. In 1948, he started working at Ford Motor Company.

Career[change | edit source]

Hooker's early solo songs were recorded by Bernie Besman. John Lee Hooker rarely played on a standard beat, changing tempos to fit the songs. This made it nearly impossible to add backing tracks.

Pop culture[change | edit source]

Hooker appeared and sang in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. He recorded over 100 albums.

In 1989, he played with Keith Richards, Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt to record The Healer and won a Grammy Award. Hooker recorded lots of songs with Van Morrison, including "Never Get Out of These Blues Alive", "The Healing Game" and "I Cover the Waterfront".

Death[change | edit source]

He fell ill just before a tour of Europe in 2001 and died soon afterwards at the age of 83. The last song Hooker recorded before his death, is "Ali D'Oro".

Quotes[change | edit source]

  • "It don't take me no three days to record no album." (during the recording of the double album Hooker 'N Heat with Canned Heat.)
  • "I don't play a lot of fancy guitar. I don't want to play it. The kind of guitar I want to play is mean, mean licks." (when describing his own music in an article from The Daily News, Atlanta, Ga. 1992)
  • "Women are like wet bars of soap. Hold on to em too hard and they pop outta your hands." (as spoken to Randy Wilkinson in New Orleans 1983, friend and road manager)

Albums[change | edit source]

1950s
Year Album Label / Notes
1959 How Long Blues released on United
I'm John Lee Hooker Vee Jay Records
The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker Riverside Records
Burning Hell Riverside
1960s
1960 Travelin Vee Jay Records
That's My Story Riverside
House Of The Blues Chess Records
Blues Man  
The Blues Crown Records
John Lee Hooker Sings The Blues King Records
1961 I'm John Lee Hooker Galaxy Records
Plays And Sings The Blues Chess
The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker Vee Jay
1962 John Lee Hooker Sings The Blues Crown
Burnin' Vee Jay
Live At Sugar Hill Galaxy
Folk Blues Crown
The Best of John Lee Hooker Vee Jay
Drifting the Blues  
Tupelo Blues  
1963 Don't Turn Me from Your Door: John Lee Hooker Sings His Blues Atco Records
The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker Vee Jay
John Lee Hooker On Campus Vee Jay
The Great John Lee Hooker Crown
1964 John Lee Hooker At Newport Vee Jay
Burning Hell  
Great Blues Sounds  
I Want to Shout the Blues  
The Great John Lee Hooker Japan only
1965 Hooker & The Hogs  
1966 It Serves You Right to Suffer  
The Real Folk Blues Chess
1967 Live at Cafè Au Go-Go  
1968 Hooked on Blues  
1969 Get Back Home  
If You Miss Ìm ... I Got Ìm  
Simply The Truth  
That's Where It's At!  
Get Back Home (First Issue)
If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im  
1970s
Year Album Label / Notes
1970 John Lee Hooker on the Waterfront  
Moanin' and Stompin' Blues  
1971 Endless Boogie  
Goin' Down Highway 51  
Half A Stranger  
Hooker 'N' Heat/Infinite boogie  
I Feel Good  
Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive  
1972 Live At Soledad Prison  
1973 Born In Mississippi, Raised Up In Tennessee  
1974 Free Beer And Chicken  
Mad Man Blues  
1976 Alone  
In Person  
1977 Black Snake  
Dusty Road  
1978 The Cream  
1979 Sad And Lonesome  
1980s
Year Album Label / Notes
1980 Everybody Rockin'  
Sittin' Here Thinkin'  
1981 Hooker 'n' Heat Recorded Live at the Fox Venice Theatre
1986 Jealous  
1988 Trouble Blues  
1989 Highway Of Blues  
John Lee Hooker's 40th Anniversary Album  
The Detroit Lion  
The Healer  
1990s
Year Album Label / Notes
1990 The Hot Spot Featuring Miles Davis
Don't You Remember Me  
1991 More Real Folk Blues: The Missing Album  
Mr. Lucky  
1992 Boom Boom  
This Is Hip  
Urban Blues  
Graveyard Blues  
1993 Nothing But The Blues  
Everybody's Blues  
1994 King of the Boogie  
Original Folk Blues...Plus  
Dimples Classic Blues
1995 Alternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings, 1948-1952  
Chill Out  
Whiskey & Wimmen  
Blues for Big Town  
1996 Moanin' the Blues Eclipse
Alone: The First Concert  
1997 Don't Look Back  
Alone: The Second Concert  
1998 Black Man Blues  
2000s
Year Album Label / Notes
2000 On Campus  
2001 Concert at Newport  
The Cream Re-issue
The Real Blues: Live in Houston 1979  
House Rent Boogie  
2002 Live at Newport  
2003 Face to Face  
Burning Hell Our World
Rock With Me  
2004 Jack O' Diamonds: The 1949 Recordings  

References[change | edit source]

  1. There is some debate as to the year of Hooker's birth. 1915, 1917, 1920, and 1923 have all been given.(Boogie Man, p. 22) 1917 is the one most commonly cited, although Hooker himself claimed, at times, 1920, which would have made him "the same age as the recorded blues" (p. 59)

Other websites[change | edit source]