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Early life Hooker's date of birth is a subject of debate; the years , , , , and have been suggested. Most sources give , though at times Hooker stated he was born in Information in the and censuses indicates that he was born in In the federal census, William and Minnie were recorded as being 48 and 39 years old, respectively, which implies that Minnie was born about , not She was said to have been a "decade or so younger" than her husband Boogie Man, p.
The Hooker children were home-schooled. They were permitted to listen only to religious songs; the spirituals sung in church were their earliest exposure to music. In , their parents separated. The next year, their mother married William Moore, a blues singer, who provided John Lee with an introduction to the guitar and whom he would later credit for his distinctive playing style.
He was a local blues guitarist who, in Shreveport, Louisiana , learned to play a droning, one-chord blues that was strikingly different from the Delta blues of the time.
For the rest of his life, Hooker regarded Hollins as a formative influence on his style of playing and his career as a musician. He frequented the blues clubs and bars on Hastings Street , the heart of the black entertainment district, on Detroit's east side.
In a city noted for its pianists, guitar players were scarce. Hooker's popularity grew quickly as he performed in Detroit clubs, and, seeking an instrument louder than his acoustic guitar, he bought his first electric guitar. The single, " Boogie Chillen' ", became a hit and the best-selling race record of In addition to adapting traditional blues lyrics , he composed original songs.
In the s, like many black musicians, Hooker earned little from record sales, and so he often recorded variations of his songs for different studios for an up-front fee. Hooker rarely played with a standard beat, but instead he changed tempo to fit the needs of the song.
This often made it difficult to use backing musicians, who were not accustomed to Hooker's musical vagaries. As a result, Besman recorded Hooker playing guitar, singing and stomping on a wooden pallet in time with the music. In Hooker's later sessions for Vee-Jay Records in Chicago, studio musicians accompanied him on most of his recordings, including Eddie Taylor , who could handle his musical idiosyncrasies. Later career and death Hooker playing Massey Hall, Toronto. One of his earliest collaborations was with British blues rock band the Groundhogs.
Hooker appeared in the film The Blues Brothers. He performed "Boom Boom" in the role of a street musician. The s saw additional collaboration albums: His re-recording of "Boom Boom" the title track for his album with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan became Hooker's highest charting single number 16 in the UK. He is interred at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California.
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