Since 1948, Hooker has done over 100 recordings, however his first hit, "Boogie Chillen" remains his favorite. "Yeah, I never played it much, but that's the one that sinks into me. It's an old standard song," he proudly says.1
"Boogie Chillen", recorded in 1948, is the song that launched John Lee Hooker's career as one of history's preeminent bluesmen. Sometimes listed as "Boogie Chillun" and, to a lesser degree, "Boogie Children", it has appeared on numerous regular recordings and compilations under all variations of the name. First recorded as a demo for Detroit record distributor Bernie Bessman, it was distributed nationally soon thereafter, and rose to the top of the Billboard R&B charts.
"Boogie Chillen" has been covered by a plethora of other well-known acts, such as Buddy Guy, R.L. Burnside, and Slim Harpo. In addition, ZZ Top also borrows heavily from "Boogie Chillen" on their song, "Backdoor Medley". With its eclectically performed lyrics that are both sung and spoken, it is a song that is very indicative of Hooker's Delta blues style that many have come to know and appreciate, over the years.
The lyrics, or at least one variation thereof, are as follows; they are approximated, as there does not appear to be any authoritative source for the actual lyrics. If you find otherwise, please let me know.
Lyrics removed, per E2 Copyright Changes :(
- "Interview with John Lee Hooker". David S. Rotenstein, 1992. http://www.dsrotenstein.com/ziggy/hooker.htm
- "Trail of the Hellhound: John Lee Hooker". http://www.cr.nps.gov/delta/blues/people/johnlee_hooker.htm
- "Interview with John Lee Hooker"