John Lee Hooker

John Lee HookerDamn, man, John Lee Hooker died yesterday. To me, this guy was the true king of blues, an artist that recorded some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. (Yes, even his stuff with Canned Heat.) An inspiration for anyone who ever played guitar. A Detroiter. Another one bites the dust, another hero of the great era in American culture gone. It makes me wonder what we will have left to mourn when I become an old man. Will I get this knot in my stomach when I hear that Sting kicks? I doubt it.

2 thoughts on “John Lee Hooker”

  1. Would there have been an “Exile on Mainstreet” if John Lee Hooker hadn’t picked up a quitar? Would we be calling Eric Clapton a blues guitar player today if Hooker had never existed? What would rock have sounded like without him? How many rock fans don’t even know who he is?

    On the flip side, Carol O Connor died last night also. It seemed a strange juxtaposition to me to hear both men’s obituaries, one after the other, on NPR this morning. I never understood either man’s work until recently. As a child I didn’t understand “All In The Family.” It was boring. Instead I preferred the spin-off, “The Jeffersons.” I never understood what the intent was behind the character of Archie Bunker, a medium to address in mainstream culture the deep rooted bigotry of white America toward people of color. He was a charaterization of American mainstream bluecollar racial bigotry, and as simply as O’Connor made the character appear on the outside, the message underneath was something that the US has still not learned how to deal with.

    Hooker’s place in our cultural history also is forever connected to that same racial gulf. Think of the irony. He literaly brought the blues to Britain before white america would accept the sound. And what a sound it was!

    I,m starting to understand it now. Where I used to hear an old Led Zepplin song and think “How 70s”. I’ll now always think of that never endeding flow of African American musical influences that have so strongly shaped our culture. From jazz and the blues to hip hop today. There isn’t a rock musician alive that doesn’t owe something to the memory of John Lee Hooker.

    From the blues to Archie Bunker. What a strange strange day.

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