John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker

Born in Mississippi in an indeterminate year in the second decade of the twentieth century, John Lee Hooker fused a number of blues styles—especially talking blues and folk blues—added his own infectious electric guitar rhythms, and became one of the most influential and celebrated bluesmen ever.

 

Even before being cited by the Rolling Stones and other 60s rock acts, John Lee had a successful career, releasing songs on a bewildering array of record labels. Often recorded solo, with just his electrified guitar and a piece of board on which he stomped out unexpectedly complex rhythms, Hooker had no problem with re-recording his most successful songs (such as “Boogie Chillun’” and “Boom Boom”) under different names. These many pseudonyms helped Hooker evade any restrictions associated with pesky contracts and the like.

 

Later in his career, his collaborations—from the fabulous 1971 shared album with Canned Heat through award-winning album “The Healer” to his twinkling guest spot in “The Blues Brothers” film—made him more of a household name than ever before in his long career. Given the vast and confusing catalogue, a compilation such as "John Lee Hooker At His Best" is a fine place to start your boogie pilgrimage.