Johnny Lee Hooker Tribute

By: Doc "MistaBluesMan" Quinn

"Johnny Lee Hooker doesn't just sing the blues,
he doesn't just play the blues...
he is the blues".

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Artist: Doc Mistabluesman Quinn

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Johnny Lee Hooker has always been one of my most favorite Bluesmen. He played and sang his Blues like he felt them. Every track JLH ever recorded was related to an event in his life. Now, that's the Blues for reals baby! We love you Johnny Lee and will forever play your Blues!

John Lee Hooker, master bluesman and undisputed father of boogie, recorded for more than 30 labels over a span of nearly 50 years.  Amazingly, he has never had a definitive career box set – until now.  On October 31, 2006, Shout! Factory will release Hooker, a 4-CD set that culls material from all eras – from a primitive 1948 recording of “Boogie Chillen’” to a version of the same song recorded exactly 50 years later in 1998 with Eric Clapton. The set was compiled by Shawn Amos and Patrick Milligan with invaluable assistance from Zakiya Hooker, Executor-Trustee and Eugene Skuratowicz, Estate Manager of the John Lee Hooker Estate. Music journalist Ted Drozdowski wrote comprehensive liner notes, which delve into Hooker’s Mississippi and African influences, and follow his career through its many achievements and accolades up to his death in 2001.  In addition, both Van Morrison, Carlos Santana and Fito de la Parra, the surviving member of Canned Heat, provided additional notes recalling their respective collaborations with Hooker, highlights of which appear on the 4-CD set. Born in 1917 to Mississippi sharecroppers, John Lee Hooker first heard blues on a wind-up Victrola and on KFFA-FM in nearby Helena, Ark.  His parents were convinced that blues was the music of the devil and insisted that he practice in the barn.  His stepfather, Louisiana guitarist Will Moore, brought John Lee in contact with what annotator Drozdowski calls the “rolling, mesmeric beat” of Shreveport blues, “which had more in common with the ancestral African origins of the music than the Delta sound.”  He was also inspired by Delta blues forebears Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charley Patton. Hooker migrated to Memphis, and then to Detroit, where he supported himself and his family playing rent parties, the inspiration for his John L.’s House Rent Boogie album in 1951.  A rough acetate recording fell into the hands of local producer Bernie Besman, launching his recording career and leading to a series of 78s and 45s on labels like Fortune, Modern, King, Staff, Regal, Deluxe, Chess, Crown, Vee-Jay and Sensation.

He recorded under several noms du disque:  John Lee Cooker, John Lee Booker, Texas Slim, Birmingham Sam & His Magic Guitar, Johnny Williams, Delta John and Sir John Lee Hooker. In the late ’60s, Hooker’s audience began to include white fans.

Boogie disciples Canned Heat brought him to the attention of their fan base with the 1970 double album Hooker ‘N Heat.  Hooker achieved legendary status, and went on to make a series of albums for ABC BluesWay, Impulse, Tomato, Pausa, Chameleon and Virgin/Pointblank. 1989’s The Healer, which included collaborations with Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt, earned him a Grammy® and brought him to the attention of a new generation of fans. “I hope this set will introduce John Lee Hooker to a new generation of fans, and reintroduce him to those who might have forgotten,” says Shout! Factory A&R head Shawn Amos. “It shows how much gravitas he held in his presence, and even in a single note of his playing.” Zakyia Hooker, John Lee Hooker’s daughter, adds, “I think this is phenomenal, to have all of my father’s music pulled together. It cuts through a really wide swath of music, from music recorded at a 1949 house party and an old acoustic spiritual, to his later music. The music was all over the place until Shout! Factory pulled it together for the edification of everyone – and they did so in a beautiful package. My father would have been smiling.”

Special thanks to bmuze for the deep linking of this so important to me track! ~ Doc ~

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