Farewell to the Crawlin Kingsnake

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Farewell to the Crawlin Kingsnake
By Marc on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 11:42 pm: Edit

billynorm welcome back. missed you, man.

By Billynorm on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 11:42 pm: Edit

Look out, man, I got the Mad Man Blues...

By Pataphysician on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 07:46 am: Edit

John Lee was an original, I'm not sure he even belongs in a Blues category. His whole approach to the guitar was non-traditional. He'd suddenly switch time signatures and keys, he'd make up his own tunings, chords, picking styles. That's why he was always best solo, no band could really follow him unless he played conventional Blues.

And what an intense performer! I've got a bootleg tape of a solo show he did in the early '90s. Some guy in the audience was heckling him. John Lee ignores him, the rest of the crowd tries to shut the guy up. Finally, John Lee launches into an ad-libbed "I'm Bad Like Jesse James" in which he details how his boys are going to take this guy down to the river and torture and murder him. It don't get more scarifyin' than that.

By Cheri on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 06:33 am: Edit

Carroll O'Connor died with a John Lee Hooker, while performing Endless Boogie...

By Marc on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 01:46 am: Edit

Archie Lee Hooker died? Oh, I'm sorry, I meant
John Lee Bunker.

By _Blackjack on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 10:49 pm: Edit

Aw, man, I go out for _one_ night and John Lee Hooker AND Carrol O'Connor die...

By Melinelly on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 10:44 pm: Edit

i grew up listenin' to my mom and uncle playin Hooker, and grew into him myself... sad day indeed...

By Webfly on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 09:47 pm: Edit

Was just listening to one of my vintage vinyls last week - "Endless Boogie."

I'll never forget the first time I heard Hooker - down in some guy's basement while he was out making a hash run or something. I was electrified. I never thought I'd hear from any Blues enthusiasts on this site.

Come to one of Pittsburgh's Southside bars some time for some real Blues.

Everbody funny;you funny too.

By Zack on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 09:20 pm: Edit

I'm glad someone posted that. Here is a note on his age if anyone's interested:

"Born: August 22, 1917 (Hooker himself has given other dates of birth, often 1920, but 1917 is accurate - although most files say August 17, differing between 1915-1923; after his death the Hooker family confirmed his birthdate as August 22, 1917)"

So, he was 83, if it matters.

I feel obligated to partake of One Bourbon, One Scotch,[and] One beer. Seems only fitting for the Greatest Blues Singer of the World. Goodbye, Texas Slim

By Cheri on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 08:11 pm: Edit

Ole Archie Bunker died too.. I'm all verklempt.

By Frater_Carfax on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 08:06 pm: Edit

Just came across this- all the legends are dropping like flies this year!

John Lee Hooker dead at 80

SAN FRANCISCO - Veteran bluesman John Lee Hooker, whose foot stompin' and gravelly voice electrified audiences and inspired several generations of musicians, died today. He was 80.

Hooker died at home in his sleep of natural causes, said his agent, Mike Kappus.

During a music career of more than six decades, the veteran blues singer from the Mississippi Delta estimated he recorded more than 100 albums.

Some of his better-known songs include Boogie Chillen, Boom Boom and I'm In The Mood.

Throughout it all, Hooker's music remained unchanged. His rich and sonorous voice, full of ancient hurt, and his brooding and savage style remained hypnotic but unpredictable. To the strains of his own guitar, he sang of loneliness and confusion. Neither polished nor urbane, his music was raw, primal emotion.

His one-chord boogie compositions and rhythmic guitar work were a distinctive sound that influenced rock 'n' rollers as well as rhythm and blues musicians.

In 1991, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Among those whose music drew heavily on Hooker's style are Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and ZZ Top. In 1961, the then-unknown Rolling Stones opened for him on a European tour; he also shared a bill that year with Bob Dylan at a club in New York.

Even in the 90s, when his fame was sealed and he was widely recognised as one of the grandfathers of pop music, Hooker remained a little in awe of his own success, telling The Times of London, "People say I'm a genius but I don't know about that".

Like many postwar bluesmen, Hooker got cheated by one fly-by-night record producer after another, who demanded exclusivity or didn't pay. Hooker fought back by recording with rival producers under a slew of different names: Texas Slim, John Lee Booker, John Lee Cocker, Delta John, Birmingham Sam and the Boogie Man, among others.

Hooker's popularity grew steadily as he rode the wave of rock in the 50s into the folk boom of the 60s. In 1980, he played a street musician in The Blues Brothers movie. In 1985, his songs were used in Steven Spielberg's film The Color Purple.

Hooker hit it big again in 1990 with his album The Healer, featuring duets with Carlos Santana, Raitt and Robert Cray. It sold 1.5 million copies and won him his first Grammy Award, for a duet with Raitt on I'm in the Mood.

Several more albums followed, including one recorded to celebrate his 75th birthday, titled Chill Out.

Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1920, Hooker was one of 11 children born to a Baptist minister and sharecropper who discouraged his son's musical bent.

His stepfather taught him to play the guitar. By the time Hooker was a teenager, he was performing at local fish fries, dances and other occasions.

Hooker hit the road to perform by the age of 14. He worked on odd jobs by day and played small bars at night in Memphis, Tennessee, then Cincinnati and finally Detroit in 1943.

In Detroit, he was discovered and recorded his first hit, Boogie Chillen, in 1948.

"I don't know what a genius is," he told the London newspaper. "I know there ain't no one ever sound like me, except maybe my stepfather. You hear all the kids trying to play like B B (King), and they ain't going to because, ooh, he's such a fine player and a very great man. But you never hear them even try and sound like John Lee Hooker.

"All these years, I ain't done nothin' different," he added. "I been doing the same things as in my younger days, when I was coming up, and now here I am, an old man, up there in the charts. And I say, 'Well, what happened? Have they just thought up the real John Lee Hooker, is that it?' And I think, 'Well, I won't tell nobody else!' I can't help but wonder what happened."

In his later years, Hooker laid back and enjoyed his success. He recorded only occasionally; he posed for blue jean and hard liquor ads. He played benefits from time to time, but mostly performed in small clubs, dropping in unannounced.

Mostly, though, he hung out with friends and family at his homes in Redwood City, south of San Francisco, and Long Beach, California, watching baseball and enjoying a fleet of expensive cars.

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