John Lee Hooker Biography, Life, Interesting Facts

Guitarist

John Lee Hooker

Birthday :

August 22, 1917

Died On :

June 21, 2001

Also Known For :

Singer

Birth Place :

Clarksdale, Mississippi, United States of America

Zodiac Sign :

Virgo


Childhood and Early Life

American blues musician John Lee Hooker was born on the 22 August 1917 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was the son of a sharecropper, William Hooker and his wife, Minnie Ramsey. Hooker was the youngest of eleven children born to the couple. His father was also a Baptist preacher.



Education

John Lee Hooker, along with his siblings, was homeschooled.

Rise to Fame

When John Lee Hooker was a child, his parents divorced, and his stepfather was a blues singer who taught Hooker to play the guitar. His sister Alice was the girlfriend of Tony Hollins, who also tutored Hooker on the guitar and who gave him his first guitar. Hooker later said that Hollins had a lasting influence on his music.

In his early teens, Hooker left home and moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he became a street performer. He found work in factories and during the early 1940s  worked for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit.

At the same time, John Lee Hooker continued his interest in blues music playing in various clubs and bars. He slowly built up a reputation as a musician and was also beginning to compose music. In the late 1940s, he recorded a demo tape for Bernie Besman in Detroit which was released by Modern Records in Los Angeles. Boogie Chillen was an instant hit and was one of the bestselling records of 1949.



Career

Throughout the 1950s, John Lee Hooker continued writing and recording, at times under various pseudonyms. He also began recording and touring with Eddie Kirkland. Hooker toured Europe in 1962.

John Lee Hooker had a hit with Dimples (1964) on the UK Charts, and around this time, various rock musicians became aware of his talent and were keen to record with him. In 1970, he recorded Hooker ‘n Heat with the rock band Canned Heat.

Recordings with artists such as Van Morrison, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana, and Bonnie Raitt followed, and he toured extensively. Hooker also appeared as a street musician, Street Slim in the hit film The Blues Brothers (1980). The Healer (1989) brought him widespread attention once more, and he appeared in a tribute concert at Madison Square Garden in 1990. He continued recording into the 1990s including the albums Chill Out and Don’t Look Back.

Awards and Achievements

John Lee Hooker was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame (1980) as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1991) and the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame (2007). He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and two of his songs Boogie Chillen and Boom Boom are on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs

That Shaped Rock and Roll list. Boogie Chillen also appears on the Recording Industry Association of America’s Songs of the Century list. In 2000, Hooker was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

John Lee Hooker had previously won Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Blues Recording (1990) for I’m in the Mood with Bonnie Raitt; Best Traditional Blues Album (1995) for Chill Out;  Best Traditional Blues Recording (1998) for Don’t Look Back and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (1998) for Don’t Look Back with Van Morrison.

Personal Life

John Lee Hooker was married four times. His wives were: Alma Hopes(m.1943-div.1943), Sarah Jones (m.1943-div. 1944), Maude Mathis (m.1944-div.1969) and Millie Strom (m. 1970 until his death in 2001).

He had a daughter Francis McBee Hooker (b.1943) with Hopes and seven children with Mathis: Diane Hooker-Roan, Zakiya Hooker-Bell,

John Lee Hooker Jr., Robert Hooker, Syvonne Hooker, Karen Hooker, and Lavetta Williams. John Lee Hooker died on the 21 June 2001 in Los Altos, California.


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