John Lee Hooker

Hooker, John Lee, 1917–2001, American blues singer and guitarist, b. near Clarksdale, Miss. From a cotton-sharecropping family, he learned the blues from his stepfather and various visiting Delta bluesmen, constructing his first instrument from strings made of rubber inner tube nailed to a barn. He left home at 14, sang with gospel groups, and ultimately moved (1943) to Detroit. Hooker made his first recording, the rhythm-and-blues hit "Boogie Chillun" in 1948. Accompanying himself on electric guitar, he recorded more than 100 albums, mainly of slow blues or fast boogies, and toured throughout the United States. After Hooker was "discovered" by the white blues-rockers of the 1960s, he recorded with several rock musicians and influenced a generation of players and singers. Hooker again reached a wide public with his albums The Healer (1989) and Don't Look Back (1997). He won three Grammy awards and was inducted (1991) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

See biography by C. S. Murray (2000).

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