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John Lee Hooker Gets Blues Trail Marker

 

JACKSON, MS – Blues legend John Lee Hooker will be honored with a Mississippi Blues Trail marker in Vance, Miss., on Wednesday, February 16 at 10 a.m. The dedication ceremony will take place at the intersection of Highway 3 and King Street. Hooker, whose birth date is most commonly cited as August 22, 1917, lived on farms in the Vance and Lambert areas as a child and claimed that he was born between Vance and Clarksdale. This is the 122ndmarker dedicated on the trail since its inception in December 2006.

 

“John Lee Hooker not only wrote some of the iconic songs that continue to shape blues music and blues musicians, but he also tutored and mentored some of the artists who will define the blues for coming generations,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “When many people think of the blues, they see the image of John Lee Hooker, and rightly so.”

 

One of the most famous and successful of all blues singers, Hooker played in a highly idiosyncratic style that he said sounded identical to that of his stepfather, Will Moore, who never recorded. Hooker also learned songs from his sister’s boyfriend, Tony Hollins, a one-time resident of Longstreet, near Vance, who later recorded for Okeh and Decca. After stays in Memphis and Cincinnati, Hooker settled in Detroit in 1943, where he was based for many years. He began recording in 1948 and had his first major hit in early 1949 with “Boogie Chillen,” which reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. Hooker’s distinctive “boogie” style harkened back to the earliest days of the blues, but his mixture of down-home sounds and urban sensibilities resounded with the many southerners who, like him, migrated north seeking work and a better life.

 

Famed for his ability to improvise new songs in the studio, Hooker recorded prolifically for a wide variety of labels, often appearing under colorful pseudonyms including Delta John, Texas Slim, Little Pork Chops and Birmingham Sam in order to avoid contractual problems. During the blues revival of the 1960s, Hooker was redefined as an acoustic “folk blues” artist and became particularly popular in the United Kingdom. The Animals had a hit with his “Boom Boom,” and he also reached new audiences through collaborations with blues-rock groups including Canned Heat. Hooker’s career slowed down in the 1970s, but he enjoyed a remarkable comeback beginning in 1989 with the release of The Healer, which featured collaborations with leading rock artists including Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt. Hooker subsequently received multiple GRAMMY® Awards, sold millions of records and bolstered his iconic status through television commercials for Lee Jeans and Pepsi. Hooker died on June 21, 2001.

 

Also acknowledged on the marker is Hooker’s cousin, Earl Hooker, who was born in the Vance area on January 15, 1930 (or possibly 1929). Earl Hooker was widely regarded by his peers as the best guitarist in the blues and was particularly celebrated for his slide guitar skills, which he learned from Robert Nighthawk. Hooker performed on the King Biscuit Time radio program in Helena, Arkansas, and collaborated with a wide range of artists including Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam and John Lee Hooker. In addition to his sideman work, Hooker led his own groups and recorded for labels including King, Sun and Checker. Hooker died on April 21, 1970, from complications of tuberculosis, a disease with which he struggled beginning in the mid-1950s.

 

The Mississippi Blues Trail is a museum without walls taking visitors on a musical history journey through Mississippi. The trail started with the first official marker in Holly Ridge, the resting place of the blues guitarist Charley Patton. The trail winds its way to sites honoring B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Son House and more.

 


STORY TAGS: BLACK NEWS, AFRICAN AMERICAN NEWS, MINORITY NEWS, CIVIL RIGHTS NEWS, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM, RACIAL EQUALITY, BIAS, EQUALITY, AFRO AMERICAN NEWS

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