Let that boy boogie, cause it's in him, and it got to come out!
- John Lee Hooker, Boogie Chillen (1948)
He's beloved worldwide as the king of the endless boogie, a genuine blues superstar whose droning, hypnotic one-chord grooves are at once both ultra-primitive and timeless. But John Lee Hooker has recorded in a great many more styles than that over a career that stretches back more than half a century.
The Hook was a Mississippi native who became the top gent on the Detroit blues circuit in the years following World War II. The seeds for his eerily mournful guitar sound were planted by his stepfather, Will Moore, while Hooker was still in his teens. Hooker had been singing spirituals before that, but the blues took hold and simply wouldn't let go.
Till mid '50s he recorded hundreds of records, most of them just using his electrical guitar and his foot, which were of great influence to bands such as the Animals and Yardbirds.
After his semi-retirement he still performed in several joints down the California coast. Baseball also took up much of his interest during the summer months; he was an inveterate Dodger fan.
June 21, 2001, John Lee Hooker died in his sleep in San Francisco. He was 83 years old.