Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy birthday, John Lee Hooker

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 11:15 AM

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John Lee Hooker was born on August 22, 1912, and passed away on June 21, 2001. We can't miss any excuse to repost this classic footage of John Lee Hooker performing live on the Detroit Tube Works program — so happy birthday to this musical giant!

It's hard to think of a blues musician more affiliated with Detroit than John Lee Hooker, who moved here in the late 1940s to work for Ford, play local clubs, and who then recorded dozens of great sides under various names for labels like Modern, Chess, Chance, De Luxe and Fortune Records. 


Hooker did some acoustic recordings, but of course he "went electric" very early on. When blues musicians were most prodded to go fully electric and have new, funkier bands in the 1960s and '70s, in order to appeal to the youth crowd, Hooker was more than up to the task. 


This video features two of Hooker's own kids plus legendary percussionist Muruga Booker. It was shot in the studio in 1970 for the local Tube Works show. Make sure you turn your device up loud before you hit play on this thing. Hooker was tuned in to a cosmic frequency of electric boogie drone, after all. The one time I interviewed him, over the phone ca. 1999, a co-worker bet me ten bucks that I'd not be able to get off the phone without him opining that "blues is the healer." I lost that bet.

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