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John Lee Hooker. Postcard. Blues Musician.

John Lee Hooker. Postcard.

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John Lee Hooker (1917 – 2001) was an African-American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist, born in Mississippi. Hooker began his life as the son of a sharecropper, William Hooker, and rose to prominence performing his own unique style of what was originally closest to Delta blues. He developed a 'talking blues' style that was his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta blues, his music was metrically free. John Lee Hooker could be said to embody his own unique genre of the blues, often incorporating the boogie-woogie piano style and a driving rhythm into his masterful and idiosyncratic blues guitar and singing. His best known songs include "Boogie Chillen" (1948) and "Boom Boom" (1962).

Hooker's life experiences were chronicled by several scholars and often read like a classic case study in the racism of the music industry, although he eventually rose to prominence with memorable songs and influence on a generation of musicians.

Hooker's guitar playing is closely aligned with piano boogie-woogie. He would play the walking bass pattern with his thumb, stopping to emphasize the end of a line with a series of trills, done by rapid hammer-ons and pull-offs. The songs that most epitomize his early sound are "Boogie Chillen", about being 17 and wanting to go out to dance at the Boogie clubs, "Baby Please Don't Go", a blues standard first recorded by Big Joe Williams, and "Tupelo Blues", a stunningly sad song about the flooding of Tupelo, Mississippi in April 1936.

He maintained a solo career, popular with blues and folk music fans of the early 1960s and crossed over to white audiences, giving an early opportunity to the young Bob Dylan. His songs have been covered by Cream, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Buddy Guy, The Doors, The White Stripes, MC5, George Thorogood, R. L. Burnside, The J. Geils Band, The Gories, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

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