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The Biography | The Essential CDs | Year-By-Year Recap | Ultimate CD Collection | One-Per-Year Chronicle
Complete Session Discography
| Singles Discography | Obituary | 50th Anniversary Collection
The "Hooker" 4-set CD-box of 2006  |  The Original Vee-Jay & Crown LPs | JLH LINKS | Gallery & Links 
The Original Vinyl Albums | The Sixties Albums | Albums 1970-1999 | The Battle of Blues Legends!
 Body & Soul reviews (plus Vee-Jay 55-58)

The World´s Greatest Blues Singer
1912 (or poss 1917) - 2001
- presented by Claus Röhnisch  
Updated: October, 2015).
The Complete Story and Sessionography

John Lee Hooker at his prime.

The Definitive JOHN LEE HOOKER
1948 - 1955 Detroit
Session Discography

1955-1964 Vee-Jay
Session Discography

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Special Note: This web site will not last forever - in a not too
far future it will not be updated and finally deleted.
Meanwhile: Try this (which will last forever) -


Don't miss this one!

The John Lee Hooker Session Discography
by Claus Röhnisch
on a great pdf-file
(with year-by-year recap and essentials CD-guide)
- updated October, 2015



 Don't miss
   these great pdf.files!

  Find all of the files listed below

   All updated in October, 2015 !!!
   - enhanced with lots of new features  !!!

    All you need is Adobe Reader  (free download)

  Top Rhythm & Blues Records  1943-1971
  THE Blues Giants  - of the 1950s
  THE Top Ten Vocal Groups - of the Golden '50s
  Ten Sepia Super Stars of Rock 'n' Roll - ten great performers 
  Transitions from Rhythm to Soul  -  Twelve Original Soul Icons

The True R&B Pioneers - twelve Hit-Makers of the Early Years
  Predecessors of the Soul Explosion  in the 1960s
Clyde McPhatter - the original Soul Star
  JLH Session Discography  - John Lee Hooker with essay
  ...  and here is a special Favorite Top 30 supplement

  Those Hoodlum Friends  - The Coasters
   The Clown Princes  of Rock 'n' Roll:
   The Coasters by Todd Baptista (with discography)



  Image right - Sample page of "THE Top Ten Vocal Groups of the Golden '50s"

Sample page "THE Top Ten Vocal Groups of the Golden '50s"


1912 - 2001

John Lee Hooker passed away
in his sleep at his
home in
Los Altos, San Francisco Bay area,
California during the night between
June 20 and June 21, 2001
(official death Thursday 21).
He is still the Greatest
Blues Singer of the World.

The earliest known promo photo of Hooker in Detroit, ca 1949.John Lee Hooker during later years.

The layout (programming) of this site is provided by
an amateur web designer (Claus Röhnisch),
- although - if you´re interested in this subject
you´ll probably endure!

This site is non-commercial.
All information displayed is provided to further the
general public's knowledge of and interest in blues music
- and especially the greatest blues singer of them all
- John Lee Hooker.

The site is roughly divided into five long,
scrollable, pages:

Page 1:
Page 2:
Page 3:
Biography with Time-Line and Essential CDs
Singles and Ultimate CDs
Original Vinyl Albums
Session Discography
Gallery & Links

THE Blues Giants (pdf)

At last: The original vinyls reissued on one cd: BGO 1129 on December 19, 2013l.

John Lee Hooker interview
copyright 1997 by Jas Obrecht.
Used by author's permission.

Terrific John Lee Hooker
Vinyl Discography
with images of most of Hooker's vinyl records
( by Scot A Pell


John Lee Hooker - So Cold In Chicago
& his Coast To Coast Blues Band (with Deacon Jones at the organ)
- 1981 -



John Lee Hooker - Hobo Blues
(American Folk Blues Festival 1965)

John Lee Hooker with Muddy Waters' Blues Band
(Newport 1960 - 2 great songs)


Boom Boom  &  I'm Leavin'  (1964)

Don´t Miss This One   (1965)
Uploaded by fredozydeco. - Watch more music videos, in HD!


John Lee Hooker 4CD Box set on Shout out on October 31, 2006.

Shout!Factory  |  Review


Robert Christgau

"4 Stars...Box-set
excess does his
magnitude justice"

 Track listing 
(AllMusicGuide with review)

John Lee Hooker Box Set Named #1 Reissue
of the Year by Rolling Stone
in December 2006

# 1 Reissue of the Year
at the Blues Foundation
Awards in May 2007    
more on this/


 50 Years: John Lee Hooker Anthology on Shout!Factory
32 tracks on
50 Years:
John Lee Hooker Anthology
Shout!Factory 2CD
CD 826663-1128
issued February 2009


HOOKER   - 4cd-BOX-SET on Shout! Factory (US)
- out on October 31, 2006  
Catalog #: 826663-10198   Note: (revised recording dates)

Disc One - Detroit: 1. Boogie Chillen' (9/48)  2. Sally Mae (9/48)  3. Black Man Blues - Texas Slim (11/48)  4. Hobo Blues (9/48)  5. Hoogie Boogie (2/49)  6. Weeping Willow Boogie (7/49)  7. Crawlin' King Snake (9/48)  8. Driftin' From Door To Door (9/48)  9. Catfish Blues (1951) 10. Moses Smote The Water (1951)  11. Huckle Up Baby (12/49)  12. Wandering Blues - Texas Slim (8/49)  13. Don't You Remember Me - Texas Slim (3/50)  14. Notoriety Woman (4/50)  15. Let Your Daddy Ride (2/50)  16. John L's House Rent Boogie (11/50)  17. Bumble Bee Blues - Johnny Williams (1950)  18. Leave My Wife Alone - John Lee Booker (4/51)  19. Just Me And My Telephone (4/51) 20. I'm In The Mood (8/51)  21. Blues For Big Town (1952)  22. Stuttering Blues - John Lee Booker (7/53)  23. Down Child (1953)  24. Boogie Rambler (5/54)  25. Baby You Ain't No Good (1954)  26. I'm Ready (1955)

Disc Two - Chicago: 1. Dimples (3/56)  2. Every Night (3/56)  3. I'm So Excited (3/57)  4. I Love You Honey (6/58)  5. Tupelo Blues (4/59)  6. I Need Some Money (2/60)  7. Democrat Man (2/60)  8. No More Doggin' (2/60)  9. Gonna Use My Rod (2/60)  10. Whiskey And Wimmen (3/60)  11. No Shoes (3/60)  12. We're All God's Chillun - Sir John Lee Hooker (7/60)  13. I'm Goin' Upstairs (1/61)  14. Teachin' The Blues (7/61)  15. You Lost A Good Man (7/61)  16. Don't Turn Me From Your Door (7/61)  17. When My First Wife Quit Me (c. 1961)  18. Boom Boom (12/61)  19. She's Mine (12/61)  20. Frisco Blues (1962)   21. Birmingham Blues (1963)  22. Big Legs Tight Skirt (1964)  23. It Serves Me Right To Suffer (1964)  24. I'm Losin' You (11/64)  25. I Cover The Waterfront (11/64)

Disc Three - Coast to Coast: 1. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (5/66)  2. Let's Go Out Tonight (5/66)  3. Bottle Up And Go (11/65)  4. Let's Make It - Live (10/62) 5. King Of The World (10/65)  6. I'm Bad Like Jesse James - Live (8/66)   7. Think Twice Before You Go (11/67)  8. Mean Mean Woman (9/68)  9. Burning Hell - John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat (5/70)  10. Peavine - John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat (5/70)  11. I Got My Eyes On You - John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat (5/70)  12. Doin' The Shout (11/70)  13. Bluebird (5/74)  14. Early One Morning (1982)  15. We'll Meet Again (1986)  16. Loving People (1991)

Disc Four - Frisco:
1. Baby Lee - John Lee Hooker & Robert Cray (10/87)  2. I'm In The Mood - John Lee Hooker & Bonnie Raitt (4/88)  3. The Healer - John Lee Hooker & Carlos Santana (4/88)  4. Mr. Lucky - John Lee Hooker & Robert Cray (1991)  5. I Cover The Waterfront - John Lee Hooker & Van Morrison (4/90)  6. This Is Hip - John Lee Hooker & Ry Cooder (5/91)  7. Bottle Up And Go - John Lee Hooker & John Hammond (1990)  8. Same Old Blues Again - John Lee Hooker & Robert Cray (1991)  9. Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker & Jimmie Vaughan (8/92)  10. Chill Out (Things Gonna Change) - John Lee Hooker & Carlos Santana (4/91)  11. Tupelo (7/93)  12. Kiddio - John Lee Hooker & Charles Brown (1994)  13. Dimples - John Lee Hooker & Los Lobos (9/96) 14. Don't Look Back - John Lee Hooker & Van Morrison (4/96)  15. Up And Down - John Lee Hooker & Johnnie Johnson (5/91)  16. Mean Mean World - John Lee Hooker & Zakiya Hooker (1991)  17. Boogie Chillen' - John Lee Hooker & Eric Clapton (6/98)

Comment from the editor of this web site:
Well - what a well-planned issue - a dream come true - with almost the identical tracks to my "Anniversary - phantasy" set!
Note: The dates here are revised and checked (and do therefore sometimes differ to the dates given in the discographical notes for the box-set).

John Lee Hooker
, master bluesman and undisputed father of boogie, recorded for more than 30 labels over a span of nearly 50 years.  Amazingly, he has never had a definitive career box set – until now.  On October 31, 2006, Shout! Factory will release Hooker, a 4-CD set that culls material from all eras – from a primitive 1948 recording of “Boogie Chillen’” to a version of the same song recorded exactly 50 years later in 1998 with Eric Clapton. The set was compiled by Shawn Amos and Patrick Milligan with invaluable assistance from Zakiya Hooker, Executor-Trustee and Eugene Skuratowicz, Estate Manager of the John Lee Hooker Estate. Music journalist Ted Drozdowski wrote comprehensive liner notes, which delve into Hooker’s Mississippi and African influences, and follow his career through its many achievements and accolades up to his death in 2001.  In addition, both Van Morrison, Carlos Santana and Fito de la Parra, the surviving member of Canned Heat, provided additional notes recalling their respective collaborations with Hooker, highlights of which appear on the 4-CD set. Born in 1917 to Mississippi sharecroppers, John Lee Hooker first heard blues on a wind-up Victrola and on KFFA-FM in nearby Helena, Ark.  His parents were convinced that blues was the music of the devil and insisted that he practice in the barn.  His stepfather, Louisiana guitarist Will Moore, brought John Lee in contact with what annotator Drozdowski calls the “rolling, mesmeric beat” of Shreveport blues, “which had more in common with the ancestral African origins of the music than the Delta sound.”  He was also inspired by Delta blues forebears Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charley Patton. Hooker migrated to Memphis, and then to Detroit, where he supported himself and his family playing rent parties, the inspiration for his John L.’s House Rent Boogie album in 1951.  A rough acetate recording fell into the hands of local producer Bernie Besman, launching his recording career and leading to a series of 78s and 45s on labels like Fortune, Modern, King, Staff, Regal, Deluxe, Chess, Crown, Vee-Jay and Sensation.

He recorded under several noms du disque:  John Lee Cooker, John Lee Booker, Texas Slim, Birmingham Sam & His Magic Guitar, Johnny Williams, Delta John and Sir John Lee Hooker. In the late ’60s, Hooker’s audience began to include white fans.

Boogie disciples Canned Heat brought him to the attention of their fan base with the 1970 double album Hooker ‘N Heat.  Hooker achieved legendary status, and went on to make a series of albums for ABC BluesWay, Impulse, Tomato, Pausa, Chameleon and Virgin/Pointblank. 1989’s The Healer, which included collaborations with Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt, earned him a Grammy® and brought him to the attention of a new generation of fans. “I hope this set will introduce John Lee Hooker to a new generation of fans, and reintroduce him to those who might have forgotten,” says Shout! Factory A&R head Shawn Amos. “It shows how much gravitas he held in his presence, and even in a single note of his playing.” Zakyia Hooker, John Lee Hooker’s daughter, adds, “I think this is phenomenal, to have all of my father’s music pulled together. It cuts through a really wide swath of music, from music recorded at a 1949 house party and an old acoustic spiritual, to his later music. The music was all over the place until Shout! Factory pulled it together for the edification of everyone – and they did so in a beautiful package. My father would have been smiling.”




"The Complete John Lee Hooker Vol 6 - Detroit - Miami 1953-54"
"John Lee Hooker on Vee-Jay 1955-1958" (featuring Hooker's first 22 Vee-Jay recordings in chronological order - no alternates included).
For the true collector:

The Complete JLH - Detroit 1948-1954 and Chicago 1955-1958
"The Complete Recordings of John Lee Hooker in Chronological Order"
- Volumes 1-6 (2CD-sets) on Body & Soul (46 tracks each - vol 6, 45 tracks),
plus a chronological Vee-Jay CD 1955-1958 (22 tracks).
Track listings

"The Complete John Lee Hooker - Vol. 1 Detroit 1948-49". "The Complete John Lee Hooker, Vol. 2 - Detroit 1949" "The Complete John Lee Hooker - Vol. 3 Detroit 1949-1950". "The Complete John Lee Hooker - Vol. 4 Detroit 1950-51" "The Complete John Lee Hooker - Vol. 5 Detroit 1951-53"


This main page has the Hooker Story and the Essentials, but...
there are three more Hooker pages at this site!
- John Lee Hooker cont´d:
Page 1 - the singles & the CDs Page 2 - the original albums Page 3 - complete session discography

John Lee Hooker's Rosebud session discography
1981 - 2003 compiled by Gary Hearn
Rock These Blues Away   (on pdf)
- not 100 % correct but it'll be revised soon!

News / Hooker News      Maria Coyote           Respectence blog


Claus Röhnisch, the editor of this web site.
Check the editor!
Write to this web site
provider & editor:


Those Hoodlum Friends
-  The Coasters  -

The Coasters Web Site - Those Hoodlum Friends
The Coasters Web Site
with 50 Years of R&B History

John Lee Hooker at his prime. John Lee Hooker
JLH in the 1990s.

John Lee Hooker at his prime.

"Boogie Chillun" on Vee-Jay

Listen to:
(ctsy Vee-Jay Records)
Please read note below!

The great Vee-Jay Ltd Partnershop site
seems to have been shut down.
Take a look at this for now!

The Original "Boom Boom"


  Vee-Jay Records  Official Web Site  blues section
  Dont miss this link!  Listen to all of Hooker´s tracks
  on the John Lee Hooker
  Vee-Jay Collectables albums and check all the information!

Please read this:

The great Vee-Jay Ltd Partnershop site
seems to have been shut down.
Take a look at this for now!

John Lee Hooker at is prime.Gone but not forgotten.John Lee Hooker in the mid 1960s.


John lee Hooker at his prime.

 intro   Drifting From Door To Door
   Boogie Chillen'
1949   Crawling King Snake
1950   House Rent Boogie  (Staff)
1951   I´m In the Mood
1952   Blues For Big Town
1953   Down Child
1954   Boogie Rambler
1955   The Syndicator
1956   Dimples
1957   I See You When You're Weak
1958   I Love You Honey
1959   Hobo Blues
1960   Gonna Use My Rod
1960   No Shoes (audio in stereo)
1961   I'm Going Upstairs
1962   Boom Boom
1963   Birmingham Blues
1964   It Serves Me Right To Suffer
1965   Bottle Up And Go
1966   One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
1967   I´ll Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive
1968   Hot Spring Water
1969   I Wanna Be Your Puppy, Baby
1970   Burning Hell
1971   House Rent Boogie (Blues)
1972   Doin' The Shout
1973   Younger Stud
1974   Homework

Get them in order of the
presentations A - G !

Hold mouse over image
for information!

Rhino´s double CD "The Ultimate Collection", which includes all the tracks from "The Very Best of..", covers JLH´s whole career (see tracks list below).
The Ultimate Collection

A0:  (Rhino 2CD - 31 tracks)
Anthology:   1948-1990

Rhino´s compilation "The Very Best of... " (see tracks list below).
The Very Best Of JLH
A0:  (Rhino - 16 tracks from above)
Sample:   1948-1987

The John Lee Hooker

The following CDs are simply "the musts" if you wanna start a Hooker Collection.
- check the
Ultimate CD Collection for these and for further interesting CDs.

John Lee Hooker 4CD Box set on Shout!Factory out on October 31, 2006.    50 Years: John Lee Hooker Anthology on Shout!Factory
A0:   (Shout!Factory 4CDbox- 84 tracks)
Chronological Anthology:  1948-1998

32 tracks on  50 Years: John Lee Hooker Anthology
Shout!Factory 2CD 826663-1128 issued February 2009
(30 from "HOOKER" plus "Jealous" and "Boogie on Russian Hill")

Detailed information
on the albums below

- also check the Guide
after the images below

"Gold" on Hip-O  with the 20 tracks from "The Definitive" plus 15 more great tracks.
(Hip-O 2CD - 35 tracks)
A0:   Chrono Anthology 1948-1993

"The Definitive Collection" on Hip-O with 20 chronological tracks (5 Modern, 3 early Chess, 2 Vee-Jay, 2 60s Chess, 5 ABC/BluesWay and one each with Canned Heat, Santana and Raitt).
The Definitive Collection
(Hip-O  - 20 tracks from above)
A0:   Chrono Sample 1948-1989

John Lee Hooker 4CD Box set on Shout!Factory released on October 31, 2006.
4CDbox anthology
A1:   1948-1998

The "Travelin´" CD with "No Shoes" from Collectables, and reissued recently on Shout!Factory (and you may find Charly´s European edition with several bonus tracks). This is my personal favorite - and actually Hooker´s first album session (except for the Riversides).
(VeeJay - Collectables)
(Charly) Album session

A2:   1960

Virgin´s "Blues Kingpins - Blues Immortal", featuring 18 great Modern tracks, 1948-1955 in chronological order!
Blues Kingpins
- Blues Immortal
(Virgin) Modern anthology
A3:   1948-1955

Charly Snapper 3-CD Box  SNAJ 705CD "Testament" with JLH in three different Vee-Jay moods - each CD 20 tracks - "Trouble Blues", "One Way Ticket", "Don´t Look Back".
(Charly 3CD) Vee-Jay
anthology incl. the tracks of
"I´m John Lee Hooker"
A4:   1955-1964

The absolute best ABC collection: The European MCA "The Best of John Lee Hooker 1965 to 1974". Just get it!
The Best of John Lee
Hooker 1965 to 1974

(ABC - MCA) Compilation
A5:   1965-1974

"The Best of Friends" Virgin/Pointblank CD with the best from all of his 90s´ albums and "The Healer" plus 3 new recordings. CD  reissued in 2007 with one extra track on Shout!Factory.
The Best of Friends
(Shout!Factory) Compilation

B1:   1987-1998

Ace´s CDH 927 containing the two famous acoustic  (one with rhythm accomp) Riverside LPs minus 4 tracks - The albums originally titled "The Country Blues of..." and "That´s My Story".
That's My Story &
The Folk Blues of JLH
(The Country Blues of...)
Two Riverside album sessions

B2:  1959-1960

The Legendary Modern Recordings CD on Ace/Flair with 24 Besman and Bihari tracks from Detroit - the original Modern 78s.
The Legendary Modern
Recordings 1948-1954
(Ace/Flair)  Singles compilation
B3:   1948-1953

"The Complete 50´s Chess Recordings" - 31 classic recordings (the European cover - check for alternate cover below).
The Complete 50's
Chess Recordings
(Chess - MCA 2CD)
Chronological compilation

B4:   1950-1954

"Live at the Café au Go-Go" with the Muddy Waters Blues Band (available on MCA, but also with "Live at Soledad Prison" added on MCA-Universal in Europe).
Live at the Café au Go-Go
(Bluesway - MCA)
incl. "Soledad Prison"
Two live sessions
B5:   1966  +72

Atlantic/Atco CD "Don´t Turn Me From Your Door - John Lee Hooker sings his blues" with Henry Stone recordings from 1953 (DeLuxe, Rockin´, Chart) and 1961 (including the bonus tracks from Atlantic´s 70s album). The non-bonus CD recently reissued on Collectables.
Don't Turn Me
From Your Door
(Atlantic/Atco) (Collectables)
Two Henry Stone sessions

C1:   1953 & 1961

Capitol´s  3-CD set "Alternative Boogie" with Besman Detroit blues - none of these alternaties are to be found on Modern, Specialty or Ace - except for a wee couple of titles (these are alternates of the Modern hits and the set includes tracks previously issued only on United Artists); 50 recordings, plus 6 "bonus" from Besman in L.A. 1961.
Alternative Boogie:
Early Studio Recordings

(Capitol 3CD)
Besman comp - alt. rec.

C2:   1948-1952 +61

"Burnin´" - with horns (the original "Boom Boom" and other great stuff) available through Collectables (or on Charly with bonus tracks).
(VeeJay - Collectables)
(Charlý) Album session

C3:   1961

The legendary Ralph Bass productions for Chess in 1966. This is the cover of the European version - the original issue (same cover - diff title - the U.S. issue is titled "The Real Folk Blues - More Real Folk Blues" - the last aka "The Missing Album").
The Complete Chess
Folk Blues Sessions
The Real Folk Blues-More Real Folk Blues
(Chess - MCA) Album session
C4:   1966

)"I'm A Boogie Man" on Varese Records with all the 16 Texas Slim tracks from "Don' t You Remember Me" plus the three rare Battle De Luxe tracks of 1953.
I'm A Boogie Man
(King - Varese)
The Texas Slim recordings, plus

C5: 1948-1950 +53

The Metro Doubles 2CD (distributed by Uniion Square production in early 2004 (METRDCD532) contains the Savoy tracks of 1948-49 (issued on a Savoy Jazz CD with 20 pseudonyme recordings plus the twelve 1961 Savoy recordings issued on 32Blues CD and Muse "Sittin  Here Thinkin'".
Early Years - The
Classic Savoy Sessions
(Savoy - MetroDoubles 2CD)
Early pirate plus album

D1:  1948-49 and 1961


  Hooker´s last and interesting "funk" ABC CD, "Free Beer And Chicken" with recordings from 1974. Get it!
Free Beer And Chicken
(ABC - BeatGoesOn)
Album session

D2:   1974

Specialty´s "Everybody´s Blues" with 8 Besman Sensation tracks 1950-51 plus 12 of his 1954 recordings for Specialty - rare - so find it!.
Everybody's Blues
(Specialty - Ace)
Early Besman + 2 Spec. sessions

D3:   1950-1951 & 1954 

"The Complete 1964 Recordings" - RPM CD 208 - issued in 2000 (featuring the last ten VeeJay recordings and the complete London, England session with the Groundhogs). Great!
The Complete 1964

(RPM) Vee-jay and Verve
Two sessions: Chicago & London

D4:   1964

This Stax CD contains nine Henry Stone productions of 1961 - plus one of the late ´60s (none of them on Atco/Atlantic).
That's Where It's At!
Florida Henry Stone session

D5:   1961

"Half A Stranger" on Mainstream has 18 perfect sounding Modern classics - 12 of them 1953-1955 recordings not on the Ace/Flair CD above - in unedited versions (and even some alternates). "Shake, Holler & Run", one-vocie alt. of "I´m In The Mood", "Hug & Squeeze", "House Rent Boogie" are some of this compilation´s contents.
Half A Stranger
/Besman compilation
E1:  1948-1955

"Urban Blues" porduced by Al Smith during two sessions in Chicago in 1967 featuring Buddy Guy, guitar (with bonus tracks from 1969 featuring Earl Hooker).
Urban Blues
(Bluesway - Universal/BGO)
Album session

E2:  1967 (& 69)

John Lee Hooker on Vee-Jay 1955-1958 (featuring 22 super tracks in chrono order).
John Lee Hooker on Vee-Jay
(Vee-Jay) Chrono anthology
E3:   1955-1958

Hooker´s last complete album session, produced by and featirng Van Morrison - issued in 1997. Reissued on Shout!Factory in 2007 with two ectra tracks from the Vee-Jay 1963 catalogue.
Don't Look Back
(Shout!Factory) Album

E4:   1996

"Graveyard Blues" featuring 20 Besman/Sensation recordings - several tracks not on any other regular CD. None of the Specialty tracks are on the Capitol 3CD-set.
Graveyard Blues
(Specialty - Ace)
Early Besman alternates

E5:  1948-1950


"Face To Face"  - New JLH recordings issued in 2003 on Eagle Records - simply great! Hard to rank in such a short perspective - but sitll .. a great album!
Face To Face
(Eagle) Late recordings
G1:   1987-2001

"Boogie Chillen´" CD of 2003 containing nine 1952-1955 tracks from the "Half A Stranger" CD plus eleven from the "The 40th Anniversary" (Demon CD "The Detroit Lion").
Boogie Chillen'
(Audio Fidelity)
Besman/Modern compilation
G2:   1948-1955

   The Eagle EAGCD279, issued in April, 2004 (originally titled "The Unknown John Lee Hooker" on a Flyright CD of 2000).
Jack O' Diamonds
The Unknown (Flyright)
(Eagle) Private session

G3:  1951
Live recordings from Palo Alto, Calif, September 1977 (with rhythm accomp)) - The 2004 Charly 2-set CD has extened track time plus six bonus live recordings from Chicago - October, 1977.
The Cream
(Tomato - Charly 2CD)
Live album session

G4:   1977

The Vee-Jay Newport tracks in new package plus some alternates.
Live At Newport
Live sessions

G5:   1963 +60

Note: Hold mouse over image to find out summary information!
If you want a complete collection of his early recordings
this series is the one to find:

The Complete John Lee Hooker

- The Complete Recordings of John Lee Hooker
In Chronological Order -

"The Complete John Lee Hooker, Vol. 1 . Detroit 1948-49".   "The Complete John Lee Hooker Vol 6 - Detroit - Miami 1953-54"       Charly´s VeeJay 6CD-box - Wow what a record!

Vol. 1 - Detroit 1948-49   Body & Soul 3057012, 2-set (2000)
Vol. 2 - Detroit 1949   Body & Soul 3063142, 2-set (2000)
Vol. 3 - Detroit 1949-1950   Body & Soul 3067872, 2-set (2001)
Vol. 4 - Detroit 1950-51   Body & Soul 3074242, 2-set (2002)
Vol. 5 - Detroit 1951-53  Body & Soul BS2500, 2-set (Jan, 2004)
Vol. 6 - Detroit - Miami 1953-54 Body & Soul BS2653, 2-set (Jan, 2005)
Note: the series includes all Hooker recordings in chronological order.

Images below right : The Vee-Jay CDs "The Folk Lore of..",
"The Big Soul of..", "On Campus" and "In Person".
Image far right above: "The Vee-Jay Years 1955-1964" 6CD Charly RED Box 6

Included in A4: 1955-1959

All 12 tracks of
"I´m John Lee Hooker"
(VeeJay - Collectables
 reissued on Shout!Factory)

are included in "Testament".

  Hooker´s very first Vee-Jay album "I´m John Lee Hooker" - reissued on Collectables CD (and Charly CD with bonus tracks).

Vee-Jay from Collectables."The Big Soul of..""On Campus"."In Person". 

Right: Alternate covers or alternate issues of
- The "Testament" box (alt cover)
B4 - "The Complete 50´s Chess Recordings"
(here in the US package
C4  - issued in US (with diff track order) as
"The Real Folk Blues - More Real Folk Blues"
C5 - "Don´t You Remember Me"
(the Texas Slim masters), also on Castle (UK)
with dubbed drums

G3 - the solo private recordings of 1951 (originally issued
on Flyright as "The Unknown JLH")

"Testament" 3CD VeeJay box on Snapper Records. MCA´s 50 years celebration 2-set CD "The Complete 50´s Chess Recordings" (including the classic early Chess albums with 1950-52 songs plus an alternate of "Walking The Boogie" and several Fortune titles of 1954). The US version of C5 - "The Real Folk Blues - More Real Folk Blues".
An alternate of the Texas Slim recordings: Charly´s CD "Don´t You Remember Me" now available on King Masters 6009 (with the 16 Texas Slim recordings). Castles King recordings (all 16 tracks), issued as "John Lee Hooker". Flyright´s "The Unknown John Lee Hooker" with private (not pirate) recordings of 1949 (prob two sessions).

A0 = Anthologies to Observe for Starters!
            - if you want the best chronological samples

A = Absolute Musts!  - Starting up!
            - the first ones to get (Modern, Vee-Jay and ABC).
B = Basic Collection!
            - spanning Hooker´s whole career.
C = Collector´s Gems!
            - if you´re getting more interested.
D = Definitive Collection!!
            - to complete your essentials.
E = Essential Extras!
            - if you´re a true Hooker fan.
F = Fine Extra Ones!  
            - for your listening pleasure.
G = Growing Collection!
            - for your ultimate collection.


Collectables CD COL 2877 with 23 classic John Lee Hooker tracks from King/Federal/DeLuxe (issued in June 2004) including 15 of the 16 Texas Slim tracks plus 3 Battle-DeLuxe and 5 Henry Stone DeLuxe. Hooker´s rare Savoy-Atlantic CD with 20 1948-49 pseudonym tracks for Joe Von Battle (including "609 Boogie," "Road Trouble" and lots of early pirate recordings). The 12 rare and "forgotten" Savoy recordings of 1961 including "When My Wife Quit Me" (featuring Eddie Kirkland lead gtr), - titled "Sad And Lonesome" ond other labels. "Trilogy" 3-set CD of April, 1999 with 64 tracks covering 1948-1964 (including one containing several really rare Joe Von Battle productions and a 1960 live bootleg session plus two CDs with rare and well-known Vee-Jay tracks).
    CDs above:
I'm The Boogie Man (King/DeLuxe-Collectables)
- alternate featuring 15 of the 16 Texas Slim
tracks plus 8 rare DeLuxe recordings  C5
Savoy Blues Legends - Detroit 1948-1949
Sittin' Here Thinkin' (Savoy/Muse - 32Blues)
- the two above on   D1 2CD
Trilogy 3CD
  incl the "Rare Hooker"  F5

CHaarly CD DIG 5
Try to find:

John Lee Hooker - The Boogie Man
on Charly DIG 5   (4CD-set with "book")
- it´s simply a great anthology, covering his prime career

with 80 handpicked tracks
(although no Modern tracks are included)

 .. and also try to find the Charly 6CD Box-set

"The Vee-Jay Years 1955-1964" (CD RED BOX 6).


Beginner's guide
with representative recordings from each of Hooker's career phases - here are:
Buy-CD-links to /

Phase 1:
JLH in Detroit 1948-1955   1CD: Blues Kingpins (Blues Immortal 1948-1955) 
Virgin 72435-82741-2-7 (2003 A3)
   and/or 1CD: The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 Virgin 39658-2 (1994) / Ace CDCHD 315(UK) (1993 B2)

Interregnums: "Folk Blues" 1953 & 1961  1CD: Don't Turn Me From Your Door (JLH Sings His Blues)  Atlantic/Atco 7567-82365-2 (1992 B1)
Phase 2
: The Vee-Jay Years 1955-1964  3CDbox: Testament (1955-1964)   Charly SNAJ 705 CD (2001 A4)
Phase 3
: The ABC Years 1965-1974   1CD: The Best of John Lee Hooker 1965 to 1974   Universal/MCAD-10539 (1992 A5)
Phase 4:
The Live Wilderness 1975-1985  2CDset: The Cream (1977)  Varese/Fuel2000 061139 (2001) / Charly SNAD 542CD(UK) (2004 G4)
Phase 5
: The Virgin Years 1986-1998  1CD: The Best of Friends (1987-1998)   Virgin/pointblank 46424 VPCD 49 (1998 B3)
                (The Best of Friends with bonus tracks on Shout!Factory)

More of Phase 1: "The Definitive Hooker"
2CDset: The Complete 50's Chess Recordings (1950-1954)  
MCA/Chess 9391 / MCD 09391(UK) (1998 B4)
  also try one/all of these:
3CDset: Alternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings, 1948-1952   Capitol 33912-2 (1995 C2)
1CDs: Graveyard Blues (1948-1950)  Specialty SPCD-7018-2 / Ace CDCHD 421(UK) (1992 D1) and
Everybody's Blues (1950-1951, 1954)  Specialty SPCD 7035-2 / Ace CDCHD 474(UK) (1993 D2) and
Half A Stranger (1948-1955)  Mainstream MDCD 903 (1991 C5)

I'm A Boogie Man - The Essential Masters (1948-1950, 1953) 
Varése Sarabande 3020665972 (2004 D5)
Savoy Blues Legends - Detroit 1948-149  Savoy Jazz / Early Years - The Classic Savoy Sessions MetroDoubles(UK)  (E1,  E1UK)
Gotham Golden Classics - The Rare Recordings 
Collectables CD COL 5151  (1998 D5)
Vinyl-LP: Johnny Lee (1948-1952 +1961)  Greene Bottle LP 3130 (2-setLP, 1972) LP   (tracks)

Proper's 4CD box. "The Boogie Man" - four CD box-set on Proper  PROPERBOX 111 (1948-1955)

RateYourMusic - John Lee Hooker 


JLH.John Lee Hooker.
John Lee Hooker Biography
by Claus Röhnisch

John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.
John Lee Hooker in Detroit.

  JLH: "The Boogie Man" - "Po´ Slim" - "The Hook" - "The Blues Giant"
Guitarist and modern urbanized country blues singer, with roots in the rich Delta tradition.

| JLH at NNDB |

Born in Mississippi, raised up in Tennessee
John Lee Hooker was born August 22, 1912 on a sharecropper farm in Tutwiler, Tallahatchie County close to Highway 49, south of Clarksdale, Coahoma County, Mississippi.  (Hooker himself has given other dates of birth – in later years often 1920 and other files say anything between 1912 and 1923). After his death - home in his sleep in Los Altos, Santa Clara County at the San Francisco Bay area, California on June 21, 2001 - the Hooker family confirmed his birth date as August 22, 1917. Recent findings by Bob Eagle suggest Hooker was born already in 1912 (information found in the 1920 and 1930 Census / Routledge enumerations outside and in Tutwiler town, Tallahatchie County). John Lee´s mother was Minnie Ramsey (born in Glendora, Miss 1875 or possibly 1880; died around 1950), married to his father (sharecropper and spare-time preacher) William (indexed Wildred) Hooker, who was born in North Carolina around 1871 (or possibly 1865). John had six brothers and four sisters - of which not all survived. Only religious music was allowed in the Hooker family. The family moved to a new farm (the Fewell plantation) at Vance, Miss (again not far from Clarksdale) in circa 1920 (where John said he met Snooky Pryor and Jimmy Lane - later known as Jimmy Rogers).

The parents separated in circa 1926 (or according to the Bob Eagle findings much earlier since John´s father was re-married to Anna from Louisiana already in circa 1922). Johnnie, who was the only child leaving with his mother, got a stepfather - William Moore (from Shreveport, Louisiana, no recordings, but a local Lambert, Miss blues musician, who died before John Lee got to Detroit). From Moore Johnnie learned to play the boogie on guitar, and tunes like "Pea Vine special" (via Charley Patton), "Rather drink muddy water", "My starter won´t start", "Don´t turn me from your door" and "When my first wife quit me". Hooker claimed Blind Lemon Jefferson came to visit Moore, and he also remembered Blind Blake and Charley Patton. Around 1928-30 Hooker had started playing the guitar, which he said was given to him by blues singer Tony Hollins, who had courted his sister – and later he got his second from William Moore. Hooker was also influenced by Tommy McClennan and much of Hooker´s greatness may be due to his natural youth mix of gospel and blues.

Hobo Blues - Drifting from door to door
Hooker left Mississippi and moved to Memphis in 1933-34, first staying at an aunt´s and later working at the cinema "New Daisy" (and possibly also the W.C. Handy Theater) on Beale Street. Johnnie claimed that he during his Memphis stay worked with Robert Nighthawk, Eddie Love (brother of pianist Willie) and the pianist Joe Willard. He soon "hoboed" again - this time he spent a period in Knoxville, Tennessee and arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio in circa 1935. During these early years Hooker sings the blues and works with gospel groups like the Big Six, the Delta Big Four, and the Fairfield Four in the evenings - and in factories, theatres-cinemas and warehouses during daytime. The years between 1939 and 1943 are unaccounted for (except for a short spell in the army - stationed near Detroit; Hooker even may have travelled to the South).

Starting out - Boogie Chillen´
Hooker started his career (eventually leading to become the world´s foremost "traditional blues" singer) via his arrival in Detroit in circa 1943, first working at a receiving hospital and later at Dodge and Comco Steel (possibly also as a janitor at the Chrysler car plant). He first married Alma Hopes - one daughter, Francis (or Frances) - but they soon parted and he later married Sarah Jones. In late 1944 he met Maude Mathis, married her and had two sons and four daughters (after his separation with Maude in 1970 Hooker has been married to Millie Strom). In the evenings of the mid 1940s John got small jobs at the clubs around Hastings Street (like Forest Inn and Club Basin). Legend has it: T-Bone Walker handed Johnny Lee the first electric guitar, as John became T-Bone's "kid" when T-Bone was working in Detroit during 1946-48. "Johnny Lee" (as most of his friends called him) invented his own "unique" style (non-rhyming, sometimes out-of-rhythm) and was introduced in 1948 to Bernie Besman (of Sensation Records at Woodward Avenue; and co-owner with John Kaplan of the Pan American Record Co.) by Elmer Barbee, Hooker´s original "manager", who "discovered" Hooker playing with his trio at the "Apex" bar on Monroe Street (although "legend" says Besman "discovered" Hooker at Lee Sensation´s bar "Russell & Orange" - or at the "Monte Carlo"). Barbee continued to promote Johnnie, after the Besman introduction, for other record labels, mostly recording in Barbee´s record shop at 609 Lafayette Street, but the main records of Hooker´s up into 1952 were recorded by Bernie Besman at United Sound Studios Inc. at 5840 2nd Blvd. Besman leased several tracks to the Bihari brothers (Modern - of Hollywood) and soon issued others on the Detroit label Sensation. A total of eight Besman-recorded Modern singles were issued from November 1948 - December 1950 and seven on Sensation (and Regal) from November 1949 - October 1950, plus a further seven on Modern from 1951 - October 1952. Almost a hundred alternates, variations andf extras were "kept in the can" and later issued on album compilations.

Neil Slaven on Hooker´s Detroit debut

"John Lee Hooker ... became an overnight sensation in 1949 ... (note: edited), his talent already fully formed. Despite his recent biography, it´s likely we´ll never know how his highly individual skill developed because it´s not something he either can or wants to talk about. And why should he, since the creative process defies definition. The huge volume of music that poured through him during the first years was like a dam wall bursting, releasing the pent-up energies of a musician whose time had finally come.... He reached Detroit in 1943 and found work at the Receiving Hospital before taking a series of jobs with Dodge and Comco Steel. He got married for the first time to Alma Hopes but they parted after a few months; his relationship with Sarah Jones managed to last a year. Far more long-lasting and inspirational was his marriage to Maude Mathis and the birth of two sons and four daughters.... There were a host of house parties and small drinking clubs around the Black Bottom and Paradise Valley sections of Detroit. Through his persistence and the conviction that he was meant to be a famous musician, John Lee graduated to clubs such as the Apex, Henry´s Swing Club, the Caribbean Club and the Sensation. He also acquired an influential fan, none other than T-Bone Walker, who gave him his first electric guitar. ´It was just a matter of findin´ the break,´ he told Shaar Murray. ´I got discovered out of a little bar by my manager Elmer Barbee. He the one discovered me, playing´ around nightclubs, little honkytonk bars, house parties. I had a little trio (with pianist James Watkins, and drummer Curtis Foster). I was playin´ a little bar called the Apex on Monroe Street, and I was the talk of the town. Barbee owned a record store at 609 Lafayette, with a small recording studio in the back. For something like six months, John Lee made regular visits and cut a series of acetates, of which "Rocks" (a variant on "Roll Me Over"), cut on June 12, 1948, was one. "Leavin´ Chicago" and the first of many versions of "Wednesday Evening Blues" also survive from this period (cut was also "When My First Wife Left Me"; ed.note). Eventually Barbee took him and his demos downtown to meet Bernard Besman, part owner of Pan American Record Distributors on Woodward Avenue... Besman elected to record John Lee at the city´s United Sound studio."
(Neil Slaven, 2000 - from the first of  the Body & Soul Complete Detroit CD series booklets).

First recordings - When my first wife left me
Hooker´s first recording was done for manager Elmer Barbee in Detroit June 12, 1948 - "Rocks" (originally unissued) and shortly thereafter he cut unissued demo recordings of circa July/August 1948: "Leavin´ Chicago" (aka "Highway Blues"), "Wednesday Evening Blues" and two demos of "My First Wife Left Me" (one known as "When My Wife Quit Me" and the other as "When My First Wife Left Me"). The song was issued as "Drifting From Door To Door" on Modern in 1949.

On Johnnie's first recording session for Bernie Besman (written in 1961)

(thanks to Alan Balfour)

An early photo of Hooker in Detroit.

    Well , my Mama she didn´t allow me, just to stay out all night long,
    ... ooh, Lord!
    Well , my Mama didn´t allow me, just to stay out all night long,
    I didn´t care if she didn´t allow me, I was boogie-woogie´n´ anyhow.

    When I first came to town, people, I was walkin´ down Hastings Street,

    I heard everybody talkin´ ´bout the Henry Swing Club.
    I decided to drop in there that night, and when I got there,
    I say, yes people, they we´re really havin´ a ball, yes I know .....
    ... boogie, chillen´!
    One night I was layin´ down, I heard Mama and Papa talkin´,
    I heard Papa tell Mama: Let that boy boogie woogie,
     ´cause it´s in him and it got to come out!
    Well, I felt so good, and I went on boogie-woogie´n´ just the same,
    ... yes .....

- by John Lee Hooker

First recordings for Bernie Besman - Henry´s Swing Club
Hooker´s debut record was cut at United Sound Studios for Bernie Besman (born 1912 - died January 10, 2003) - with Joe Siracuse, engineer, in September 1948. It was "Sally May" c/w "Boogie Chillen´" (B 7003 and B 7006) - released November 3, 1948 on the West Coast Bihari-owned Modern label, # 20-627 - with "Sally May" titled "Sally Mae" on later issues (just as the second take of that song). The matrix numbers of this session were B 7003 - B 7006, used both by Besman himself and Modern Records. On that session a further titles were recorded. One was "Highway Blues" (B 7004) issued in 1971 as "War Is Over (Goodbye California)" on Specialty LP 2127 and in an alternate as "See, See Baby" on Greene Bottle LP 3130 in 1972. The other was "Wednesday Evening Blues" (B 7005) issued on United Artists LP 5512 as "She Was In Chicago" in 1971 and in an alternate as "Crazy ´Bout That Woman"" on Greene Bottle. Hooker´s two alternate boogies, possibly also recorded that day, were later titled "Johnny Lee´s Original Boogie" (better-suited title would have been "Detroit Boogie") and "Henry´s Swing Club". Today Fancourt and other discographers are agreeing on that the matrixes B 7007 - B 7009 were recorded at the same session as "Boogie Chillen´", since Besman offered those matrixes to the Biharis at the same time as "Boogie Chillen´". "Hobo Blues" (B 7008B), "Drifting From Door To Door" (B 7007), "Playin´ The Numbers" (B 7009 - originally issued as "Numbers Blues" on the Ace CD "House Rent Blues" as late as 2001 and in an alternate as "She Ain´t Good For Nothin´" on Greene Bottle). These versions of "Numbers Blues" are not to be mixed-up with B 8013 "Playin´ The Races" aka "Dream A Number" on Greene Bottle (which also has an alternate titled "Well I Got To Leave" on United Artists LP 127 in 1973), which were re-recordings from late 1949. There is also a first version of "Alberta" (from Specialty LP 2125), which may be master B 7010. In all ten recordings were waxed (plus the alternates) in September, 1948 - the tracks listed above plus "Howlin'  Wolf" (B 7011) and "Crawling King Snake" (B 7012). "Hobo Blues" c/w "Hoogie Boogie" (B 7036B from a later session) was Besman´s follow-up record to "Boogie Chillen´", released in March 1949. Before that at least four 78´s by Hooker, recording under different pseudonyms were issued, all recorded by manager Elmer Barbee (although three of them were sold to Joe Von Battle, who resold them to King and Savoy). All of Modern´s B-matrixes 1948-1950 (and they were assigned in recording chronology - not in order of actual issue date) are Bernie Besman productions issued as "John Lee Hooker And His Guitar".

Poor Slim´s Battle - Stomp Boogie
After Hooker´s local success with "Boogie Chillen´" (later known as "Boogie Chillen" - also labeled as "Boogie Children" - and in several re-recordings as "Boogie Chillun") Hooker started "moonlighting" under different pseudonyms for other Detroit producers, especially for manager Elmer Barbee and for Joe Von Battle in Joe´s Record Shop at 3530 Hastings Street. Hooker called himself Poor Slim, Poor Joe, and Tony on many of the early Barbee recordings. The first five pirate issues were: "Black Man Blues" c/w "Stomp Boogie", released on King in November 1948 as Texas Slim, "Goin´ Mad Blues" c/w "Helpless Blues", released in February 1949 on Regent (as Delta John), "Low Down Midnite Boogie" c/w "Landing Blues", released in March on Savoy (as Birmingham Sam), "Do The Boogie" c/w "Morning Blues", released in April on Acorn (as The Boogie Man). All of these were Barbee recordings, although sold to Battle. There was also a Barbee recording, "Wayne County Ramblin´ Blues" c/w "Grievin´ Blues" on Danceland (as Little Pork Chops with an unknown lead singer on the flip). Around August 1949 Joe Von Battle produced "The Numbers" c/w "Devils Jump", by himself (although Fancourt nowadays states they also are Barbee productions sold to Battle) - released on King as Texas Slim. Idessa Malone´s production of "Miss Rosie Mae" c/w "Highway Blues" was released on Prize (as Johnny Williams) during 1949 and later several records were made as "John Lee Booker" (for Battle and Henry Stone); and Idessa Malone continued her "Johnny Williams" recordings - even Gotham (a Philadelphia label) recorded Hooker as "Johnny Williams" and as "John Lee". 26 original pirate singles (that's more then the Besman-produced singles) were issued from December 1949 - June 1952 (under pseudonyms - with only two exceptions for Chess, and including a reissue on King by John Lee Cooker) with the last one on Chance as John L. Booker ("609 Boogie" c/w Road Trouble"). Eddie Burns, hca; John T. Smith, gtr; Andrew Dunham, gtr; James Watkins,pno; Curtis Foster,dms and Johnny Hooks, tenorsax sporadically worked with Hooker during the early years.

From Detroit to Chicago; and from Coast to Coast
- I´m In The Mood / It serves me right to suffer

In 1951 and 1952 JLH cut two sessions direct for Chess Records (the first probably in Chicago and the second possibly in Detroit - experts still argue if it was Besman, Battle, Barbee or Leonard Chess who produced the sessions). On April 26, 1951 "Ground Hog Blues" coupled with "Louise" - which were issued on both Chess and Modern - were waxed together with six other great songs. On April 24, 1952 the second Chess session took place - this time twelve songs were recorded (a.o. "Walkin´  The Boogie"). In between those two sessions Hooker recorded his biggest hit, "I´m In The Mood" for Besman (Modern Records) in Detroit. From mid 1952 - when Bernie Besman moved to Los Angeles - Joe Bihari took over as producer in Detroit (still with United Sounds´ Joe Siracuse as engineer) and Hooker toured with "second" guitarist Eddie Kirkland, with whom he worked several times thruout the years. JLH worked with his own band from 1953 - the Boogie Ramblers in Detroit (including Bob Thurman and sometimes Vernon "Boogie Woogie Red" Harrison, pno; Tom Whitehead, dms; Jimmy Miller, tpt; and Johnny Hooks and later Otis Finch, sax). Hooker was contracted to Art Rupe's Specialty Records in early 1954 (only one single was issued), but the Modern recordings continued for a while later, and the last Modern recordings were made early 1955 (or possibly late 1954). He then signed a contract with Vee-Jay Records around October 1955 and switched recording locations to Chicago (Universal Studios) during 1955 - 1964 (with Jimmy Bracken, Ewart Abner and especially Calvin Carter producing - later also Al Smith). From 1965 Hooker regularly recorded in New York, due to his new-signed contract with ABC Records after Vee-Jay´s bankruptcy (the first couple of albums produced by Bob Thiele). Hooker moved to Oakland, California in 1970 (something he had longed for, and came natural after his separation with Maude). He regularly recorded in Los Angeles and San Francisco during the early ´70s - often produced by Ed Michel. His accompanying Coast To Coast Blues Band of the Frisco/L.A. area (with several famous white rock musicians) backed him in the ´70s (and variations including his son Robert Hooker, Luther Tucker on guitar and later Deacon Jones on keyboard toured with him during the ´80s and ´90s). Hooker settled in the San Francisco Bay suburbs during the ´90s. The Blue Rose organization from 1989 (making Hooker a rich man during later years): manager Mike Kappus, producer Roy Rogers, artist John Lee Hooker

   John Lee Hooker on Records - Boom Boom
   Hooker made records for (among others):
   - Modern and Sensation as John Lee Hooker 1948-1952
   - King, Savoy, Gotham, Chess, DeLuxe, Fortune 1948-1954
(different pseudonyms)
   - Modern 1952-1955, Specialty 1954
   - VeeJay 1955-1964, Riverside 1959-1960
   - Chess 1966, ABC/Bluesway 1965-1974
   - Tomato 1977
   - Chameleon (Silvertone in Europe) 1989
   - Pointblank/Virgin 1990-2001 (+ Eagle 2003)

    John Lee Hooker  -  Recorded History (original issues and recording dates)

    The Best Historic Recordings
 (62 great tracks . original and representative albums noted)


Drifting From Door To Door
(Modern 714, prob. ca Sept 1948 aka  When My First Wife Left Me)
   LP "Sings The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings", "Original Folk Blues, Plus" and "Hooker" CDbox
Sally May (Modern 627, ca Sept 1948)
   LP "
The Great JLH" - CD "The Ultimate Collection", "House Rent Boogie" and "Hooker" CDbox - all as Sally Mae and on
   LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit" - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings" as There's A Day Comin' Baby;
   plus in an alternate on LP "The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings",
"Blues Kingpins",
   "Original Folk Blues, Plus" and "Gold"; all as Sally Mae

Boogie Chillen'
(Modern 627, ca Sept 1948 - the original)
   LP "The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings", "Blues Kingpins", "Original Folk Blues, Plus",
   "Half A Stranger", "Boogie Chillen'", "The Very Best of", "The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and
"Hooker" CDbox;
   plus in an alternate on LP "Goin' Down Highway 51" - CD  "Graveyard Blues"  as Henry's Swing Club, and in a completely
   alternate take on LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit" - CD  "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings"
   as Johnny Lee's Original Boogie

Black Man Blues (King 4283 as Texas Slim, ca Nov 1948)

   LP "Slim's Stomp"
and "No Friend Around"
  - CD "Don´t You Remember Me", "I'm A Boogie Man", "I'm The Boogie Man" and
"Hooker" CDbox
Low Down-Midnite Boogie (Savoy 5558 as Birmingham Sam, ca Nov 1948
aka Talking Boogie)
   LP "Southern Blues" and "No Friend Around"
   - CD "Savoy Blues Legends Detroit 1948-1949" and "Early Years - The Classic Savoy Sessions"

Hobo Blues
(Modern 663, ca Sept 1948 - the original)
   LP "The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings", "Blues Kingpins",
"Half A Stranger",
   "The Very Best of", "The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and
"Hooker" CDbox;
   plus in an alternate on LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit"
   - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings" as Long Long Way From Home

Hoogie Boogie (Modern 663, prob. February 18 1949 aka Rhythm No. 2)
   LP "The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings"
, "Blues Kingpins", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox, plus in alternates
   on LP "Goin' Down Highway 51" - CD "Graveyard Blues" as Hastings Street Boogie, and on
   LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit" - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings"
   as Snap Them Fingers Boogie, plus  on LP "Johnny Lee" as My Own Boogie

Crawling King Snake (Modern 714, prob. ca Sept 1948
- the original)
   LP "The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings", "Blues Kingpins", "Original Folk Blues, Plus",
   "Half A Stranger", "The Very Best of
", "The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox; plus in an alternate on
   LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit" - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings" as I Rule My Den
Talkin' Boogie (Chance 1104 as John Lee Booker, 1949 - aka Slappin' The Boogie)
   LP "John Lee Hooker & His Guitar" - CD "Rare Hooker" and "The Boogie Man" box

Don' t You Remember Me (King 4366 as Texas Slim, ca March 1950)
LP "Slim's Stomp" - CD "I'm A Boogie Man" and "Hooker" CDbox - with dubbed drums on
   LP "Sings Blues" - CD "Don´t You Remember Me" and "I'm The Boogie Man"
   (also recorded in a different version for Besman November 16, 1950)

Boogie Chillen No. 2
(Sensation 34, prob April 28 1950)
   LP "...Alone" (Specialty) - CD "Graveyard Blues"; plus on LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit"
   - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings" as I Gotta Be Comin' Back;
   also in alternates on LP "Goin' Down Highway 51" - CD "Graveyard Blues" as 21 Boogie,
   and on LP "Johnny Lee" as Jump Chillun
Notoriety Woman (Regal 3304, April 28 1950)
   LP "Johnny Lee" as No Place To Sta
y - CD "Hooker" CDbox; plus in an alternate on
   LP "Coast To Coast Blues Band" and CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings" as Throw This Old Dog A Bone

House Rent Boogie (Staff 710 as Johnny Williams, Blues Classics v.a. LP 12, Oct-Nov 1950 - the original)
   LP "Detroit Blues, 1950-51" and "No Friend Around"
   - CD "Gotham Golden Classics - The Rare Recordings", "Rare Hooker" and "The Boogie Man" bo
   This is not the Besman-produced Modern version recorded Nov 16, 1950
   (included in the
"Hooker" CDbox and most of the other compilations, aka as John L's House Rent Boogie)
Women In My Life (Modern 829/Kent v.a LP 9006, April 2 1951)
LP "Goin' Down Highway 51" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings"; plus "Everybody's Blues"
   as Four Women In My Life; and in an alternate on LP "John Lee Hooker's Detroit"
   - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings" as I'm Going Away - that alternate also
   on "Boogie Chillen'" as Four Women In My Life 

Leave My Wife Alone (Chess 1467 as John Lee Booker, April 26 1951)

   "House Of The Blues", "The Complete 50's Chess Recordings",
"The Definitive Collection"and "Hooker" CDbox
I´m In The Mood (Modern 835, Aug 7 1951
- the original three-voice)
   LP "The Blues" - CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings", "Blues Kingpins", "The Very Best of",
   "The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and
"Hooker" CDbox; with unedited alternate on "Half A Stranger" and "Boogie Chillen'",
   plus in three versions on LPs "Coast To Coast Blues Band" and "John Lee Hooker's Detroit"
   - CD "Alternative Boogie - Early Studio Recordings"; also in an edited-dubbed version on "House Rent Boogie"

The Journey (Chess LP 1454, April 24 1952)

Plays And Sings The Blues" and "The Complete 50's Chess Recordings"
Blues For Big Town (Fortune v.a. LP 3002, ca 1952)
Blues For Big Town",  "The Complete 50's Chess Recordings", "The Boogie Man" box and "Hooker" CDbox
Stuttering  Blues
(DeLuxe 6032 as John Lee Booker, July 1953)

   "Don't Turn Me From Your Door", "I'm The Boogie Man"
and "Hooker" CDbox;
Down Child (Modern 923, late 1953)

   LP "Folk Blues"
- CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings", "Half A Stranger", "Boogie Chillen'" and "Hooker" CDbox
Boogie Rambler (Specialty CD 7035, May 13/14 1954
- the "unissued")
   "Everybody's Blues"
and "Hooker" CDbox
  (also recorded in a different version for JVB in circa 1954/55)
Baby You Ain't No Good (Crown LP 5295, late 1954)

   LP "Folk Blues" - CD "Half A Stranger", "Boogie Chillen'", "House Rent Boogie"
and "Hooker" CDbox
The Syndicator (Modern 966, prob. early 1955)

   LP "Sings The Blues"
   - CD "Blues Kingpins", "Half A Stranger", "Boogie Chillen'" and "Original Folk Blues, Plus"
Hug And Squeeze (Modern 966, prob. early 1955)
   LP "Sings The Blues" - CD "Blues Kingpins", "Half A Stranger" and "House Rent Booge'";
   also in an alternate on "Sings The Blues" and "Half A Stranger" as I Love You Baby

Every Night (Vee-Jay 188, March 17 1956)

   "I'm John Lee Hooker", "On Vee-Jay 1955-1958", "Testament"
and "Hooker" CDbox
Dimples (Vee-Jay 205, March 17 1956
- the original)
   "I'm John Lee Hooker", "On Vee-Jay 1955-1958", "Testament", "The Very Best of",
"The Definitive Collection",
   "50 Years" and
"Hooker" CDbox
I'm So Excited (Vee-Jay 245, March 1 1957)

   "I'm John Lee Hooker", "On Vee-Jay 1955-1958", "Testament"
and "Hooker" CDbox
I See You  When You´re Weak (Vee-Jay 245, March 1 1957)
   "On Vee-Jay 1955-1958", "Rare Hooker", and in an alternate on "Dimples" DJM LP

I Love You Honey
(Vee-Jay 293, June 10 1958)

   "I'm John Lee Hooker", "On Vee-Jay 1955-1958", "Testament", "Gold"
, "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
Tupelo Blues (Riverside LP 838, April 1959
- the original/acoustic)
   "The Country Blues of", "That's My Story/The Folk Blues of"
and "Hooker" CDbox
  (later recorded in a different version for Vee-Jay at Newport June 25, 1960)
Gonna Use My Rod (Riverside LP 321, Febr 9 1960)

   "That's My Story", "That's My Story/The Folk Blues of" and "Hooker" CDbox
  (based on his 1954 recording I'm Mad, and later recorded in different versions as I'm Mad Again and
   I'm Bad Like Jesse James)

No Shoes (Vee-Jay 349/LP 1023, March 1 1960)

   "Travelin'", "Testament"
, "Gold", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
Whiskey And Wimmen (Vee-Jay LP 1023, March 1 1960)

   "Travelin'", "Testament"
and "Hooker" CDbox
We're All God's Chillun (Fortune 855 as Sir John Lee Hooker, ca July 1960)

   "Rare Hooker", "The Boogie Man" box
and "Hooker" CDbox
When My Wife Quit Me (Savoy
v.a. LP 16000, ca 1961)
   "Sad And Lonesome", "Sittin' Here Thinkin'", "Early Years - The Classic Savoy Sessions" and "Hooker" CDbox
I'm Going Upstairs
(Vee-Jay 379/LP 1033, Jan 4 1961)

   "The Folk Lore
", "Testament" and "Hooker" CDbox
You Lost A Good Man (Atco LP 151, ca July 1961)

   "Don't Turn Me From Your Door"
and "Hooker" CDbox
Teachin' The Blues (Guest Star LP 1902, ca July 1961)
That's Where It's At",  "The Ultimate Collection", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox;
Boom Boom (Vee-Jay 438/LP 1043, late 1961
- the original)
   "Burnin'", "Testament", "The Very Best of
", "The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
Process (Vee-Jay LP 1043, late 1961)
   "Burnin'" and "Testament"
Frisco Blues (Vee-Jay 493/LP 1058, 1962
- the original)
   "The Big Soul", "The Ultimate Collection"
and "Hooker" CDbox
Birmingham Blues (Vee-Jay 538/LP 1066, 1963)

   "On Campus", "Testament"
and "Hooker" CDbox
It Serves Me Right To Suffer (Vee-Jay 708, mid 1964
- the original)
   "In Person",  "Testament", "The Complete 1964 Recordings", "The Very Best of", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
  (later recorded in a different version for Impulse November 23, 1965 as It Serves You Right To Suffer)

Let's Make It Baby (Brunswick LP 109012, Oct 18 1962 -
studio live)
   "The Original American Folk Blues Festival", "The Boogie Man" box
and "Hooker" CDbox
   (recorded in its original version for Vee-Jay in late 1961)

I'm Losin' You (Verve LP 3003, mid-Nov 1964)

   LP "And Seven Nights" - CD
"The Complete 1964 Recordings" and "Hooker" CDbox;
   and (with brass dub) LP "On The Waterfront" - CD "The 1965 London Sessions"

Bottle Up And Go (Impulse 242/LP 9103, Nov 23 1965)

   "It Serves You Right To Suffer", "The Ultimate Collection"
, "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
  (recorded in a different "demo" version for Vee-Jay 1963)
House Rent Blues (Chess CD 9329, May 1966)

   "More Real Folk Blues -The Missing Album" and "The Complete Chess Folk Blues Sessions"
   (based on the 1950 recordings House Rent Boogie, and later recorded as House Rent Boogie for ABC in 1970)

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (Chess LP 1508, May 1966)

   "The Real Folk Blues", "The Complete Chess Folk Blues Sessions",
   "The Best of 1965 to 1974", "The Very Best of",
"The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
I´ll Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive (Bluesway LP 6002, Aug 30 1966
- the original/live)
    "Live at the Cafe au Go-Go"
  (later recorded in a different version for ABC September, 1971 with Van Morrison)
Mr. Lucky (Bluesway 61014/LP 6012, Nov 27 1967
- the original)
   "Urban Blues" and "The Best of 1965 to 1974"

Mean Mean Woman (Bluesway 61023/LP 6023, September 18 1968)

  "Simply The Truth"
and "Hooker" CDbox
I Wanna Be Your Puppy, Baby (Bluesway LP 6038, May 29 1969)
If You Miss 'Im... I Got 'Im"
Burning Hell (Liberty 2LP 35002, May 25, 1970)
  "Hooker 'N Heat", "The Very Best of", "The Definitive Collection"
and "Hooker" CDbox
    (recorded in its original version for Besman/Sensation 1949)

Sittin' In My Dark Room (Bluesway 11298/LP 2-720, Nov 11 1970)
   "Endless Boogie"

Doin' The Shout
(Bluesway 11298/LP 2-720, Nov 12 1970)

   "Endless Boogie", "The Best of 1965 to 1974"
and "Hooker" CDbox
Bluebird (ABC LP 838, May 15 1974)

"Free Beer And Chicken", "The Best of 1965 to 1974"
and "Hooker" CDbox
 (recorded in different versions for Chess and for Modern in 1952)
Homework (ABC LP 838, May 14 1974)

   "Free Beer And Chicken"
Early One Morning (Pausa LP 7197, 1982)
   "Jealous" and
"Hooker" CDbox

Baby Lee (Chameleon LP 74808, Oct 1987
- the revival)
   "The Healer", "The Best of Friends"
and "Hooker" CDbox
 (recorded in its original version for Vee-Jay March 27, 1956)
The Healer (Chameleon LP 74808, April 1988)

   "The Healer", "The Best of Friends",
"The Definitive Collection", "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
Don´t Look Back (Pointblank CD 39, April 1996
- the revival)
   "Don' t Look Back", "The Best of Friends"
, "50 Years" and "Hooker" CDbox
 (recorded in its original version for Vee-Jay in 1963)
Loving People (Eagle CD 20023, 2003
- the edited, rec 1991)
    "Face To Face" and "Hooker" CDbox

JLH Lyrics    |   More lyrics

All Music Guide on JLH

including a music video!

"Rock Steady"   live 1980 video     |     JLH at YouTube  several videos

John Lee Hooker Foundation
Glenn Thomas (grandson of JLH) Executive Director

A Tribute to John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker news at    Hooker Rosebud Site
JLH on the News at   Google News Directory
Link to:
Soulful Detroit
 Hooker Audio Search at

John lee Hooker at his prime.
Johnnie´s Career Phases


(Driftin from Door to Door  1917 - 1947)
Clarksdale - Memphis - Cincinnati - Detroit

The Detroit Years 
(Modern  1948 - 1955)
Mississippi Roots  1948 - 1952  (Besman, Battle
Modern "City Blues"  1953 - 1955 (The Biharis)
The Chicago Years 
(Vee-Jay  1955 - 1964)

Famous Rhythm & Blues Sounds  1955 - 1958  (Vee-Jay)
The "Folk Blues" Period  1959 - 1961  (Acoustic and Campus)
Sir John´s "Urban Soul" Sounds  1962 - 1964 (Motown in Chicago)

The NY-LA Years  
(ABC  1965 - 1974)
Travelin´ Blues Giant  1965 - 1969  (Continents and Coast to Coast)
"Endless Boogie" Rock  1970 - 1974 (Nothin´ But the Best)

The Frisco Blues Legend 
(1975 - 1985 and Virgin)
In The "Live Wilderness"  1975 - 1985  (Frisco Blues)
The Healer & Boogie King  1986 - 2001  (Blue Rose)

John Lee Hooker during his late California years.

John Lee Hooker


Hooker´s Original R&B Hits:






# 1

# 9
# 5
# 6
# 15
# 1
# 29
# 21
# 16


Boogie Chillen´    (#1 for 1 week)
Hoogie Boogie
Hobo Blues
Crawling King Snake
Huckle Up Baby
I´m In The Mood     (#1 for 4 weeks)
I Love You Honey
No Shoes
Boom Boom







 "Boogie Man" - one of several book covers.
Wanna know all about The Hook?
Then read:  
The Adventures of John Lee Hooker
in the American Twentieth Century

by Charles Shaar Murray
(Viking, UK 1999; US 2000)         (paperback)         (paperback)

The great John Lee Hooker DVD "Come See About Me".
Great New DVD on Eagle
"Come See About Me"
The Definitive DVD
Launch E-card!
Don't miss this!

"Face To Face" Vol. 1 - New JLH recordings issued 2003.

The John Lee Hooker CD
"Face To Face"
on Eagle Records
Buy CD


"Face To Face" Vol. 1 - New JLH recordings issued 2003.

Face To Face

Eagle ER 20023-2  (UK - EAGCD 265)
- (US October, 2003; UK November, 2003)
15 super tracks (can´t stop listening to "Loving People" - which is completely different to the Zakiya duet of 1993, "Funky Mabel" and "Up And Down")! Most of the songs are unissued tracks recorded during the last years of Hooker´s life (from circa 1987 and up to his last months - several of the best cuts are late-recordings). It includes all the different Hooker moods and has all the great professionals accompanying. On a couple of tracks daughter Zakiya joins. The album is produced by Ollan Christopher Bell with assistance from Anthony Cook, and with Zakiya Hooker as executive (and Roy Rogers and Mike Kappus the original session producers). This CD is simply great! Vol 2 is due later. This is a MUST-HAVE! Thanks Zakiya, John Lee Hooker Estate Management, Eagle Records, Blue Storm Music and the John Lee Hooker Foundation for this!  Note: In my opinion THE BEST of Hooker´s late CDs!
| The Music Box Review | Tracks list |


John Lee Hooker (circa 1980s).


Revered by his fans and his fellow musicians, John Lee Hooker is considered the Godfather of Blues, the King of the Boogie. Filmed just a few years before his death,

takes audiences inside the life and times of this Blues legend and the music that influenced a rising generation of rockers. John Lee tells the tale himself, with help from his family, closest friends, and musical colleagues including Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana and Robert Cray.

rder (amazon)

Hooker´s recorded output
John Lee Hooker at his prime.John Lee Hooker in the late ´90s.John Lee Hooker
1948 - 1998
Number of recordings compared - incl alternates   (scale: Besman´s c:a 114 tracks)
Note: approx. scaling.


Besman´s Modern/Sensation 1948-1952



Pirate & Pseudonyms 1948-1954

& Fortune 1954


Vee-Jay Records 1955-1964



"Folk Pirate" recordings 1960-1962

Europe recordings

ABC & Chess 1965-1969


Heat & ABC
1970 - 1974

"Live Wilderness" 1975-1985

            "Virgin plus" 1986-1998



John Lee Hooker's "Hi-Five"
    - with label credit,
(notable featured musicians) - recording location, date,
    master no, title, label no, (peak R&B chart pos, longevity on R&B chart and time-span charting)

 JOHN LEE HOOKER, vcls/gtr
 John Lee Hooker & His Guitar - Detroit, ca September, 1948:
   B 7006       Boogie Chillen' - Modern 627 (#1, 18w January-April 1949)
 John Lee Hooker (featuring Eddie Kirkland,gtr) - Detroit, August 7, 1951:
   MM 1636    I'm In The Mood - Modern 835 (#1, 15w October 1951-February 1952)
 (featuring Eddie Taylor,gtr) - Chicago March 17, 1956:
   56-445        Dimples - Vee-Jay 205 (issued August 1956)
  (featuring Lefty Bates,gtr) - Chicago, March 1, 1960:
   60-1384      No Shoes - Vee-Jay 349 (#21, 2w July-August 1960)
 (featuring Joe Hunter,pno and Hank Cosby,sax) - Chicago, ca December 1961:
   61-2204      Boom Boom - Vee-Jay 438 (#16, 8w June-August 1962)


Listen to:
John Lee Hooker - Live at the Lone Star Café,
NYC August 9, 1981

- with Deacon Jones, organ; Mike Osborn,gtr;

Larry Hamilton,bsg; Tim Richards,dms -

performing these great original blues:

exclusively here at this site !
25 minutes live mp3

- ctsy Tilman Reitzle

JLH Year-By-Year Recap
- by Claus Röhnisch
(revised October. 2015)

John Lee Hooker in 1974.


Born on August 22, in Tutwiler Mississippi (not far from Clarksdale), son of preacher and share-cropper William Hooker (born 1871 or even earlier; died according to some files in 1923, other information says much later) and Minnie Ramsey (probably born 1875; died around 1950). They raise a family of eleven children (not all survive).

This is the most frequent published date of Hooker’s birth. Hooker’s Social Security card (ctsy Jim O’Neal), registered  late 1942, while living in Lambert, Mississippi, states that Johnie (sic) Lee Hooker was born in Glendora, Tallahatchie County on August 22, 1917, to William Hooker and Lee Ethel Moore (ed note: prob the by-then remarried Minnie).

The Hooker family moves to the nearby Fewell plantation in Vance, Mississippi.

1922 or poss 1926
Hooker's parents separate and John's mother remarries to sharecropper and spare-time blues singer William Moore. John Lee is the only child of the Hooker's who moves with his mother to Moore's farm in Lambert, Miss (again not far from Clarksdale).

Starts to play the guitar seriously. John had been given a guitar as a present from Delta blues singer Tony Hollins earlier and a new guitar from Moore now. John is inspired by Moore (who plays with Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Son House).

After a couple of earlier trips to Memphis (to stay with an aunt´s), Hooker leaves Mississippi for Memphis, Tennessee.
Arrives in Cincinnati, Ohio - singing the gospel and the blues (after a short spell in Knoxville, Tennessee).

Joins the Army forces near Detroit - and later possibly traveling South again. He was registered in Lambert, Mississippi in October 1942 (and possibly also visited Alabama and New Orleans).

Settles in Detroit, Michigan, working as a janitor and playing the blues at night. Short-lived marriage
with Alma Hopes - one daughter, Frances, and yet another failed marriage with Sarah Jones (divorced 1944).

Meets and soon marries Maude Mathis (around 16 at the time) - a marriage lasting for 25 years. Their first child, Diane, born on November 24, 1946  - the second Vera (later known as Zakiya) born on April 1, 1948 - and more to come, including John Lee Jr (in January, 1952) and Robert (in July, 1953). Later came daughters Karen, and Shyvonna, plus Lavetta (Williams).

Receiving yet another guitar - this time from T-Bone Walker, who like many others called Johnnie, "The Kid". Settles in a rooming house on Madison Street and finds more club works around Hastings Street, jamming with Eddie Burns and his partner John T. Smith, and with guitarist Andrew Dunham in clubs like the Forest Inn and Club Basin, and with his own small combo featuring James Watkins,pno and Curtis Foster,dms.

Hooker´s first manager, Elmer Barbee, records several demos during the Summer in Barbee's record shop (and also "Miss Sadie Mae" in Toledo). Barbee brings the demos to record producer Bernie Besman around September and Besman produces Hooker´s first commercial recordings at United Sound Studios on 5840 2nd Blvd - with Joe Siracuse the engineer (a total of 10 tracks - plus alternates - are cut at this first regular session). Besman leases the recordings to the Bihari Brothers´ Hollywood-stationed label Modern Records as John Lee Hooker & His Guitar. On November 3, the first Hooker single is issued, titled "Boogie Chillen´" - which actually is the B-side of "Sally May". That same month Hooker starts "moon-lighting", as manager Barbee sells several recordings to Detroit producer Joe Von Battle - the first pseudonym record being "Black Man Blues", released as Texas Slim on King Records in November or December - other recordings, which Barbee sells to Battle are resold from Battle to Savoy and its subsidiary Regent (Regent´s "Goin´ Mad Blues" as by Delta John and Savoy´s "Low Down Midnite Boogie" as by Birmingham Sam are issued during February and March 1949). The pseudonym records will continue to appear on the market during Hooker´s years with Modern Records. Hooker lives with his family at Jameson Street off of McClellan and Charlevois in Detroit.

"Boogie Chillen´" hits the Race Records Juke Box Chart #1 in February. "Hobo Blues" b/w "Hoogie Boogie" (the latter cut at Hooker's second session for Besman, probably on February 18), issued in March (both hit the Race Records Chart, #5 and #9), "Weeping Willow Boogie" and later "Crawling King Snake" become Hooker´s Modern Records three follow-up 78s. The latter, peaking at the new R&B Chart #6 in December, is coupled with "Drifting From Door To Door" (which is actually a re-titling of one of Barbee´s first demos, "When My First Wife Left Me"). Barbee´s production for the tiny Danceland label is issued (as by Little Pork Chops), but noone recognizes the record (Barbee also cuts a Hooker demo of "Cotton Pickin´ Boogie" with James Watkins at the piano - as all Barbee-recordings waxed at 609 Lafayette Street). Around August Joe Von Battle (who records Hooker in his shop - Joe´s Record Shop at 3530 Hastings Street) cuts several Hooker tracks as Texas Slim for King Records (the first issues being "The Numbers" and "Nightmare Blues"). In November and December Besman issues the first two of several singles on the local Detroit label Sensation Records, "Burnin´ Hell" (featuring Eddie Burns on harmonica) and "Huckle Up Baby" (the latter record peaks at the R&B Chart #15 in February 1950).

Several Texas Slim recordings are issued on King (sold to the label by Joe Von Battle - with two of the tracks recorded by Idessa Malone). "House Rent Boogie" c/w a terrific rendition of "Wandering Blues" (based on Charles Brown´s classic "Driftin´ Blues" and which Hooker had recorded in several versions earlier), produced by Idessa Malone on Staff Records, is issued in December as by Johnny Williams and in March 1951 Modern release the Besman produced record of the boogie ("John L´s House Rent Boogie"). Around the end of the year an obscure record on Gone Records surfaces as by John Lee Booker and his Guitar, titled "Mad Man Blues", recorded by Joe Von Battle, where Hooker calls himself Sam (on previous pirate recordings Hooker had often called himself Poor Joe, Poor Slim, and Poor Tony). The single will be reissued during 1951 on Chess Records.

Resigns a contract with Bernie Besman up to February 29, 1952 (although Besman´s last recording session for Modern is dated May 22, 1952). Hooker records several titles as by Johnny Williams for Gotham in the early part of the year (or possibly in late 1950) - a Philadelphia label - although the recordings are done in Detroit - possibly by Joe Von Battle. The last Gotham single though, "Mean Old Train", issued with the obvious pseudonym John Lee in March 1952. Hooker records direct for Chess Records in Chicago on April 26, issued as John Lee Booker during the latter part of the year (a.o. "Leave My Wife Alone"). On some of the tracks Hooker is accompanied by Eddie Kirkland. The original "I´m In The Mood" (with - probably again - Eddie Kirkland on second guitar) is recorded with multi-vocal-tracks on August 7 by Besman and becomes a great hit (reaching US Pop #30 and hitting the R&B Juke Box Chart #1 in November - the hit lasts into 1952). In October Chess Records issue "Ground Hog Blues" (a new version of an unissued recording originally done for Gotham) c/w "Louise" as by John Lee Booker. Several early Barbee-recordings appear on the Chicago-based label Chance during lat 1951 and early 1952 as by John Lee Booker and his Guitar, including the fine "Talkin' Boogie".

Modern Records go to court, winning the right to reissue the Chess-recording "Ground Hog Blues" b/w "Louise" on their label (now issued as by John L´ Hooker in January). Hooker debuts as a radio DJ and tours with Eddie Kirkland and with Muddy Waters in the South. On April 24 Hooker waxes a second huge Chess session (this time probably in Detroit). "High Priced Woman" from the Chess productions of April 1951 is issued, followed by "Walking The Boogie" c/w "Sugar Mama" from the 1952 session - but most tracks from the second session, a.o. "The Journey", will not be issued until the LP market is hitting Europe during the early 1960s. During the Summer Bernie Besman moves to Los Angeles and the Biharis decide to produce Hooker themselves from now on (with Joe Bihari travelling to Detroit to cut records - still with Bernie´s engineer Joe Siracuse in the studios). Besman´s last Hooker production will be "It´s My Own Fault" (issued a couple of years later on Chess, featuring Bob Thurman,pno) and Modern Records´ first Bihari-productions will result in the single "Rock House Boogie" c/w "It´s Been A Long Time Baby".

Eddie Kirkland is featured on most of the Hooker recordings of 1953 (one of the best Modern cuts is "Down Child"). Hooker continues his pirate recordings - now making several singles, a.o. "Stuttering Blues", for Henry Stone on DeLuxe (prob. in Cincinnati) as by John Lee Booker (the recordings will re-appear on the Stone-associated labels Rockin´ and Chart during 1954 and 1956).

Signs a contract with Specialty Records and makes recordings for that label at Esquire Recordings Studios in May, produced by Johnny Vincent (a.o. the single "I´m Mad" and a new version of Hooker´s signature melody, "Boogie Rambler", featuring Johnny Hooks,tens; John Griffith,pno; Theo Roosevelt,b; and regular drummer Tom Whitehead). A second Specialty session is held at United Sounds (where Besman had made his recordings) in October, produced by Besman´s engineer Joe Siracuse. The recordings from that session will remain unissued until the 1970s. Although contracted to Specialty Hooker continues to record for Modern into 1955 (and makes recordings for Devora Brown´s Fortune Records).

His last Modern single, "I´m Ready" (with Otis Finch,tens; Thurman, Kirkland, and Whitehead) is issued in October and Hooker signs with the Chicago label Vee-Jay Records, owned by Vivian Carter and her brother Jimmy Bracken - the first single, "Mambo Chillun", is issued in November (featuring Jimmy Reed,hca - and recorded at Universal Studios).

The classic "Dimples" is recorded in Chicago for Vee-Jay in March (with a combined Chicago/Detroit rhythm section comprising Eddie Taylor,gtr; George Washington,b; and Whitehead,dms).


Becomes an established Vee-Jay artist, recording a.o. the fine "I See Yu When You´re Weak" (although his label-mate Jimmy Reed is selling better).

"I Love You Honey" on Vee-Jay Records hits the R&B Chart #29 in December (featuring Detroit-pianist Joe (Edward) Hunter plus Eddie Taylor,gtr; Everett McCrary,b; and Richard Johnson,dms).

Jaques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard "introduce" Hooker to Europe´s record buyers, and The first Vee-Jay LP, "I´m John Lee Hooker", is issued (including several re-cuts of his famous Modern hits and with some tracks featuring drummer Earl Phillips). Vee-Jay "lease" Hooker for a couple of "country blues" acoustic albums to Riverside (actually Hooker´s first album sessions), recording his first version of "Tupelo Blues" on "The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker" (reissued with several retitlings, a.o. "The Folk Blues of JLH"). Chess Records issue the classic Hooker album comprising 1951-52 recordings, "House Of The Blues", and follow it up with "John Lee Hooker Plays And Sings the Blues" in 1961.

The first Crown budget album, "The Blues", hits the markets (including Hooker´s Detroit-recorded classic Besman and Modern titles). In the years to come three more Crown albums will surface (later reissued several times on the Biharis´ other budget labels United and Custom). A second Riverside album, the highly appreciated "That´s My Story", with several tracks featuring a rhythm section (Sam Jones,b; and Louis Hayes,dms) is issued (including the great "Gonna Use My Rod", in later versions known as "I´m Mad Again" and "I´m Bad Like Jesse James"). In 1964 (but only in England) a third Riverside LP, "Burning Hell", from the 1959 session will be issued. Hooker waxes his wonderful Vee-Jay album "Travelin´" in March, including a.o. the first version of "Whiskey And Wimmen" (with a trio led by guitarist Lefty Bates plus Sylvester Hickman,b; and Jimmy Turner,dms). Hooker and Muddy Waters are the true blues artists on the second annual Newport Folk Festival in June. In July one of the singles from the "Travelin´" LP, "No Shoes", hits the R&B Hot Chart #21.
JLH cuts several pirate tracks for Fortune in Detroit (who also had recorded him around 1954). King Records issue "John Lee Hooker Sings Blues" late this year, comprising 12 old Texas Slim recordings (with dubbed drums and echo on a couple of tracks - plus 4 tracks by Earl Hooker, wrongly credited John - although with the track titles as on the remaining Texas Slim recordings).

John Lee Hooker at his prime in the 1960s.

The third Vee-Jay LP, "The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker" is issued, featuring a.o. a handful of tuff rhythm & blues originals with Lefty Bates,gtr & hca (not Jimmy Reed, but Lefty himself); Quinn Wilson,b; Earl Phillips;dms and possibly Pops Staples also present. The six recordings of January 4 (of which only four are included on the album) are nowadays all true classics: "Want Ad Blues", "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", "I´m Going Upstairs", "I Left My Baby", "Hard Headed Woman", "I´m Mad Again". Bob Dylan debuts in New York - opening for Hooker at Gerde´s Folk City. Hooker uses Eddie Kirkland to back him on an album recording for Savoy (Fancourt lists the session in 1959). The recordings stayed in the can and were not issued until more than ten years later as "Sittin´ Here Thinkin´" on Muse - only one track, "When My Wife Quit Me", was to be issued on a Savoy various-artists LP in 1964. Hooker records his "Burnin´" LP in Chicago around Christmas for Vee-Jay with Detroit musicians including reeds (session-men: Joe Hunter (prob not Ivy Jo),pno; Hank Cosby,tens; Mike Terry,bars; Larry Veeder,gtr; James Jamerson,bsg; Benny Benjamin,dms) after a long period of "folk blues" waxing.

"Boom Boom" (from "Burnin´") hits US Pop #60 in July (and the Hot R&B Chart #16). Vee-Jay issue "The Best of JLH" (a compilation of his 1955-1961 period in Chicago). Hooker tours Europe with the Original American Folk Blues Festival package (including T-Bone Walker, Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon).

"The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker" album on Vee-Jay, featuring "Frisco Blues", is issued (with a female backing - not the Vandellas but Mary Wilson and the Andantes). Atco Records issue the album "Don´t Turn Me From Your Door" in February (featuring Henry Stone DeLuxe tracks of 1953 and new recordings of 1961, the latter ones recorded in Miami), where one really can trace Hooker´s gospel roots (and in 1969 Stax Records find more Stone tracks of 1961 to issue on "That´s Where It´s At!" - some of them previously issued on Guest Star and Storyville). Hooker refers to the electric bass player featured on several of the tracks as "Earl". John Lee again uses the soon-to-be-famous Detroit "Motown" musicians to back him on half of the tracks of the Vee-Jay "On Campus" album, featuring "Don´t Look Back" (including reeds, rhythm - and brass - and this time possibly The Vandellas). Another classic from that LP is "Birmingham Blues". JLH cuts several tracks at the Newport Folk Festival originally issued on Vee-Jay ("Concert At Newport") and remixed at Vanguard Records in 2002 ("Live At Newport").

Makes his last session for Vee-Jay Records in early/mid-year, including the original version of "It Serves Me Right (To Suffer)" (featuring a lead guitarist who may be Wayne Bennett). Kent Records (a Bihari label) issue "Original Folk Blues", comprising famous Modern tracks. Hooker tours Britain with John Mayall and a UK issue of "Dimples" reaches UK Pop #23 and he plays it on "Ready Steady Go" TV. Hooker also waxes an album with Tony McPhee´s Groundhogs in London in November. The album will appear on several labels under several titles years later, although the most well-known are "... And Seven Nights" on Verve-Folkways in 1965 and four years later the brass-dubbed "On The Waterfront" on Wand.

Vee-Jay, who soon will go bankrupt, issue "Is He The World´s Greatest Blues Singer?" (covering ten years of Sir John Lee Hooker in Chicago). Johnnie tours The American Folk Blues Festival again (this time with a.o. Buddy Guy and Fred Below - and visits Britain for the fourth time) and later that year signs with ABC Records in the US - the first LP being "It Serve(s) You Right To Suffer" on the jazz-subsidiary Impulse Records, recorded in New York in November by Bob Thiele with a rhythm section comprising Barry Galbraith,gtr; Milt Hinton,b; and Panama Francis,dms.

The legendary T-Bone Walker and Johnny Otis producer Ralph Bass (who produced several 1960s Chess recordings and albums, and refusing to cut n stereo) records Hooker for Chess in Chicago in May (including Lafayette Leake,pno; old Detroit friend Eddie Burns,gtr; unknown bg; and Fred Below or S.P. Leary,dms) and "The Real Folk Blues" is issued later that year (featuring the now famous "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"). Almost 30 years later "More Real Folk Blues - The Missing Album" from that same session is marketed.
The first ABC-Bluesway album by Hooker is issued, "Live at the Café au Go-Go" (featuring the Muddy Waters Blues Band in August 1966, who back him on a.o. the first version of "I´ll Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive"). The British issue of "House of the Blues" (featuring 1951-52 Hooker Chess tracks) reaches UK Pop #34 - and Hooker visits Britain in June.

The award-winning Bluesway album "Urban Blues" (including the original "Mr. Lucky") is issued, recorded in Chicago during September and November 1967 by Al Smith (musicians: Eddie Kirkland, Wayne Bennett and prob also Buddy Guy, guitars; Phil Upchurch and Eddie Taylor,bsgtrs; Al Duncan,dms; and Louis Myers,hca). Galaxy Records (who already had come up with a Besman recorded Los Angeles LP, simply titled "John Lee Hooker" with "I Lost My Job") issue "Live At Sugar Hill", cut in November 1962 in San Francisco. A second volume will be issued on Ace Records in England in 1972 (the two volumes reissued on a Fantasy 2-LPset as "Boogie Chillun") and in 2002 a true Vol. 2 with further unissued tracks appears on a Fantasy CD. Hooker tours Europe in October with Walter Horton, T-Bone Walker and Eddie Taylor.

Another award-winning Bluesway album, "Simply The Truth", is issued (recorded in New York by Bob Thiele during September 17-18, 1968 with Ernie Hayes,pno; Wally Richardson,gtr; William Folwell,b; and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie,dms; plus the unknown Hele Rosenthal,hca). The Stax LP "That´s Where It´s At!" hits the market with 1961 Henry Stone material plus one new-recorded track featuring blue-eyed soulster Steve Alaimo (who had helped Stone produce soul records in Miami from the mid 1960s). The Bluesway album "If You Miss ´Im ... I Got ´Im" is recorded in May in Los Angeles, where Hooker is backed by cousin Earl Hooker and his band with Jeff Carp,hca (Earl dies in Chicago on April 21, 1970). Hooker tours Europe again (which he has done every year since 1962), this time recording French material enough for more than three albums - some featuring a backing supplied by Lowell Fulson,gtr; Carey Bell,b (not hca); and S.P. Leary,dms. Back home in the U.S. he settles in California (after separating from wife Maude).

At lease from ABC Hooker finds himself recording - in May again - with Canned Heat in Los Angeles for Liberty (featuring the young harmonica-player Al Wilson - who dies shortly after), and headlines the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival in August (with Buddy Guy and Johnny Winter).

In April the Liberty double-LP "Hooker ´N Heat" reaches US Pop #77, and another double-LP recorded in San Francisco in November 1970, "Endless Boogie", is issued on ABC (featuring a.o. Mark Naftalin, Cliff Coulter, Steve Miller, Mel Brown; plus Hooker´s regulars Gino Skaggs,b; and Ken Swank,dms). The album reaches US #126. The editor of this web site publishes a John Lee Hooker albums guide in the Swedish blues magazine "Jefferson". Kent Records re-issue Hooker´s first Crown-album, this time as "The Greatest Hits of JLH".

Bernie Besman issues the 2-set LP "Johnny Lee" on Greene Bottle packed with never-before-issued alternates of Besman´s Detroit-productions of 1948-1952 (these alternates are yet to be issued on regular CD). It is not the first "alternate" Besman issue. Specialty Records and United Artists had already come up with three LPs during 1970-71 ("Alone" and "Goin´ Down Highway 51" on Specialty and "Coast To Coast Blues Band - Any Where Any Time Any Place" on United Artists). The ABC album "Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive" (including the title track duet with Van Morrison, recorded in September 1971) reaches US Pop #130. Again Hooker is backed by famous rock musicians together with regulars Robert Hooker,pno; and Luther Tucker,gtr (who had played with Little Walter and Sonny Boy).


The 3-set LP "John Lee Hooker´s Detroit" on United Artists is issued (comprising further alternate Besman titles of 1948-1952 plus a couple of Besman 1961 recordings). Polydor (leased from King in Nashville) issue "Slim´s Stomp", compiled by Dave Sax - based on the old King "Sings Blues" and Ember album (with that great photo by Valerie Wilmer). This new issue includes all 16 of Johnnie´s Texas Slim recordings of 1948-1950 - and undubbed. ABC issue "Born In Mississippi, Raised Up In Tennessee", where the rock musicians of September 1971 get dubbings added in March via brass, horns and female vocals.

Dynasty Records (reactivated Vee-Jay) issue the album "In Person", which includes Hooker´s last session for Vee-Jay, produced by Al Smith ten years earlier. Ed Michel produces the underrated, and last ABC album, "Free Beer And Chicken", recorded in Sausolito and Los Angeles May 14-23 (this time with the brass direct behind Hooker - no dubs). Among the tracks: the funky "Homework" with Howard Roberts and Wah-Wah Watson,gtrs; Cliff Coulter, synthesisers and bsgtr; plus Ron Beck,dms. The album also features Joe Cocker,vocals; Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Michael White,violins; and a.o. Robert Hooker and Luther Tucker. On September 6 Hooker performs at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival along with among others James Brown and B. B. King.

The days of "The Live Wildrness" - Hooker spends most of his days touring and making live recordings (ABC-Bluesway had already come up with two live-albums of 1971 and 1972 - the second one featuring vocals by John Lee Hooker, Jr.). Hooker, solo or with his "Coast to Coast Blues Band" (featuring a.o. Jim Kahr,gtr) appears on several live albums, recorded in New York ("Alone"), Germany, Chicago, Colorado, Houston, and Oklahoma during the years 1976 to 1984.

Vee-Jay International issue the "Gold" 2-set LP in a short-lived Vintage series (it is actually a re-issue of two original VJ albums - "I´m John Lee Hooker" and "The Big Soul"). DJM of UK issue a superb double-LP titled "Dimples", featuring a 1955-1959 chronology of Hooker´s Vee-Jay recordings, making several titles available on LP for the first time - and also including a couple of never-before-issued songs (one with Otis Finch,tensax and one with Frankie Bradford,pno). "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" is recorded live in Chicago and later issued on an Albert King Tomato CD featuring live recordings ("I'll Play The Blues For You").

Tomato Records issue a 1977 Palo Alto, California live-recorded double-LP, "The Cream" (featuring a.o. John Garcia Jnr and Ron Thompson,gtrs).


Hooker appears with Lightnin´ Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton at New York´s Carnegie Hall.

Inducted into the Blues Foundation´s very first Hall Of Fame. Featured as one of many fine cameo artists in the movie "The Blues Brothers". Charly Records in UK start to reissue most of Hooker´s Vee-Jay recordings, marketing several new album packages during the early 1980s (they also find several unissued tracks).

Records with Canned Heat again (this time for Rhino in Venice, California - live) together with The Chambers Brothers.


Records several tracks for an album (with a.o. Deacon Jones,organ and Mike Osborn,guitar) in Vancouver, Canada. The LP will not appear on the market until 1986 on Pausa (reissued on Pointblank in the late ´90s), titled "Jealous".

Hooker works on in the "Live Wilderness" with concerts all over the States.

The Bihari's sell their catalogue to Kamp Associates after a long legal dispute over the ownership of the John Lee Hooker Modern masters. Later the Duck Soup Music Group purchases the Modern catalogue. Today Ace Records in London have the rights to the Bihari labels (Virgin in the US) - although Besman's (and even John Lee's) estates have the rights to several early masters.

The Spielberg movie "The Color Purple" features Hooker´s music and Hooker records "We´ll Meet Again" in Redwood City, California to be featured on the "Jealous" album.

Krazy Kat in England issue the LP "Detroit Blues 1950 - 1951", with nine Gotham tracks of 1951 (including three originally unissued) plus the Johnny Williams Staff single of 1950 ("House Rent Boogie" c/w "Wandering Blues", which had been reissued on Gotham) and five tracks by Eddie Burns. An album covering the Hooker tracks appears on U.S. Collectables "Gotham Golden Classics - The Rare Recordings". Hooker records with Canned Heat again in January and in October a re-rendition of "Baby Lee", featuring Robert Cray, is produced by Roy Rogers and recorded at Russian Hill in San Francisco by engineer Samuel Lehmer (who will engineer most of Hooker´s later recordings). The recordings will be featured on "The Healer" album of 1989.

Finds himself a new manager, Mike Kappus. The new association had started slow already in 1976 (when Kappus started to be Hooker's agent) but - from now - incredible things will happen - with the Blue Rose organization (Kappus, Roy Rogers and JLH) and the Rosebud Agency - giving Hooker a completely "new career" after more than 40 years in business. Roy Rogers produces several titles with guest artists including Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos and George Thorogood in and around San Francisco during April and May - completing the album that in the year-to-come will make Hooker quite a rich man.

Bernie Besman issues  "40th Anniversary Album" on DCC (comprising re-titlings of old Besman Detroit-tracks). In the UK the album is issued a year later on Demon as "The Detroit Lion". Hooker waxes Jimi Hendrix´ "Red House", featuring Booker T. Jones in March. In July Chameleon Records (who recently had issued a couple of CDs featuring Vee-Jay tracks) issue the album "The Healer" from the sessions the years before (the title track featuring Carlos Santana). The album becomes a big seller - first in England on the UK label Silvertone and later reaching US Pop #62 (staying on the albums survey for 38 weeks). Hooker performs at the 30th Newport Folk Festival. In September Hooker is featured on Pete Townshead´s concept album "The Iron Man", and in December Hooker joins The Rolling Stones in an Atlantic City concert.

"I´m In The Mood" (duet with Bonnie Raitt), from "The Healer", wins Best Traditional Blues Recording at the 32nd annual Grammy award´s ceremony in February. "The Healer" album (on Silvertone) hits UK Pop #63. Hooker visits Britain in July. Krazy Kat issue a double LP, comprising 33 very rare recordings (including several unissued Barbee and Battle productions from 1948-1953), compiled by Dave Sax and titled "Boogie Awhile". In October Benson & Hedges promote "A Tribute To John Lee Hooker" at Madison Square Garden, New York City with guests Gregg Allman, Joe Cocker, Albert Collins, Ry Cooder, James Cotton, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Mick Fleetwood, John Hammond, Al Kooper, Huey Lewis, Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter and members of Little Feat. Hooker is featured as movie soundtrack singer (actually "hummer & moaner") in "The Hot Spot" with music by Jack Nietsche. British Ace re-issue 21 tracks from the first two Riverside albums (1959-1960) on CD, titled "That's My Story/The Folk Blues of..",

Cuts "Up And Down" with Johnnie Johnson (Chuck Berry's old pianist and bandleader) at the piano in May (or January - the recording will surface on a "Chill Out" promotion EP/CD several years later - and on the "Face To Face" CD of 2003). Hooker is Inducted into the Rock ´N´ Roll Hall Of Fame on January 17, at the sixth annual dinner at Waldorf Astoria in New York. The Hooker back-up band "The Coast To Coast Blues Band" of 1991: Vala Cupp, vocals; Deacon Jones - often substituted or supplemented by Lizz Fisher, keyboards; Mike Osborn, lead guitar; Rich Kirch, rhythm guitar; Jim Guyett, bass guitar; Bowen Brown,dms; and Kenny Baker, saxophone. Mainstream Records in the UK issue a superb Hooker CD, titled "Half A Stranger", which has 18 direct-from-tape digitally remastered Modern tracks (most of them concentrating on Hooker´s later Modern years 1953-55 and "I´m In The Mood" in an alternate undubbed one-voice-take. Around the time of Bernie Besman´s death in the year of 2003 an Audio Fidelity CD, titled "Boogie Chillen´", featuring eleven Besman recordings included in the "40th Anniversary Album" plus nine Joe Siracuse-engineered Modern tracks from the "Half A Stranger" CD, is issued. Chess/MCA issue the CD "More Real Folk Blues - The Missing Album" with nine never-before-issued Hooker tracks from Chess´ "The Real Folk Blues" session of 1966. Among the new tracks: a terrific version of "House Rent Blues". In Europe MCA decide to issue the tracks together with the further nine original tracks on "The Complete Folk Blues Sessions" (reissued in US in 2002 as "The Real Folk Blues - More Real Folk Blues"). Pointblank´s "Mr. Lucky" album is issued (again with famous "guests") - and really sells! Rhino Records issue the double-CD "The Ultimate Collection, 1948-1990", comprising tracks from all of Hooker´s long-time career.

Atlantic Records reissue the "Don´t Turn Me From Your Door" album on CD (this time it features a total of 16 tracks, identical to the Atlantic LP "Detroit Special" of 1972). The album "Boom Boom" is Hooker´s next seller (again on Pointblank). UK Charly Records issue a 6CD-box, titled "The Vee-Jay Years 1955-1964", comprising almost all his Vee-Jay recordings. MCA-Universal, who own Hooker´s ABC/Bluesway and Chess material, issue the best of the many Hooker New York / California collections: "The Best Of John Lee Hooker 1965 to 1974" (compiled by Dave Booth with Colin Escott´s fine track comments).

The San Francisco club, John Lee Hooker´s Boom Boom Room, is opened and Hooker cuts a duet with B.B. King (Muddy Waters´ old "You Shook Me"). Hooker joins Van Morrison to cut "Gloria" live in San Francisco. Re-activated Vee-Jay issue the CD "John Lee Hooker on Vee-Jay 1955-1958" (a chronology with all of the 22 songs Hooker made for the company during these years, including "Mama You Got A Daughter" with full rhythm accomp). During 1992 - 1994 Ace Records in England (and Flair and Specialty in US) issue several CDs comprising Modern, Besman and Specialty originals, the most famous being the 1993 CD "The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954" - with Specialty´s chronological "Graveyard Blues" (featuring Besman recordings 1948-1950) and "Everybody´s Blues" (Besman 1950-1951 and almost all Specialty recordings of 1954) also truly worthwhile buys. Ten years later - in August, 2003 - Virgin/EMI in U.S. issue a great Modern compilation in their series "Blues Kingpins" featuring 18 chronological John Lee Hooker tracks for Modern, recorded during 1948-1955.

The 1955-1964 Vee-Jay recordings are by now reissued on all the labels you can imagine and in packages you may not even have dreamt of (mostly bootleg though and no royalty to the Hook). Charly Records issue a great 4CD-bookset, "The Boogie Man", comprising his famous Vee-Jay tracks and several rare pseudonym recordings from 1948-1966.

Hollywood RockWalk inducts John Lee in February. Capitol Records reissue old Besman alternates (originally on United Artists LPs of the 1970s) on their 3CD-set "Alternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings, 1948-1952" (which also includes some Besman 1961 L.A. recordings).

Gets Grammy award, Best Traditional Blues Album, for Virgin/ Pointblank´s CD-album "Chill Out". Appears in the major charity event Free Tibet Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Receives a Lifetime Achievement Award form The Blues Foundation on November 7.

Celebrates 50 years of recording activities (Besman & Modern in Detroit 1948-1955, Vee-Jay in Chicago 1955-1964, ABC Coast to Coast 1965-1974, live & Virgin in Frisco 1975-1997) with around a hundred original albums to his credit.

MCA in US and Universal in Europe (who had purchased Chess Records) issue a double-CD, "The Complete 50´s Chess Recordings", comprising all of the 1950-1952 classics, previously issued on the two famous early 1960s Chess albums - this time completed with the alternate of "Walkin´ The Boogie" and several Fortune recordings acquired by Chess (creating a chronological collectors´ gem of 31 tracks). Hooker receives Grammy awards for the "Don´t Look Back" album (produced by and featuring Van Morrison) - both Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals; and rewaxes "Boogie Chillen" for the last time (guested by Eric Clapton) - to be issued on his "The Best Of Friends" CD-album. Joerg Bundshuh starts shooting the film "John Lee Hooker - That´s My Story" (in 2003 the film is also issued on Docurama DVD). Starting in 1998 Charly reissue the first (and best) four of Hooker's Vee-Jay albums - "I'm John Lee Hooker", "Travelin'", "The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker" and "Burnin'", (originally issued in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962 - now including bonus tracks). These CDs will be reissued again in 2003.

Receives a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation on February 25. Charles Shaar Murray´s biography on Hooker, "Boogie Man", is published.

Receives a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement on February 22. "The Unknown John Lee Hooker" CD on British Flyright Records is issued. It features a bunchful of private Detroit 1951 recordings (never-before-issued - and originally thought to be recorded in 1949). That CD will re-surface as "Jack O' Diamonds" on Eagle in 2004. Atlantic Records issue a JLH album in their "Savoy Blues Legends" series, titled "Detroit 1948-1949", comprising tracks from the 1970s Savoy LP "Southern Blues", but also including several bonus tracks (a treat for the Hooker fans, who now can enjoy 20 very early Elmer Barbee-produced pirate recordings). Hooker´s earliest recordings become "public domain" - the best issues being Body & Soul´s two double-CDs "The Complete John Lee Hooker in Chronological Order Vol 1" and "Vol 2" (covering 1948 and 1949). A year later Vol 3 - also a double-CD - covers 1950, and in the year of 2002 Vol 4 (also a 2-set covering 1951) will be issued - followed by the 1952-1953 CD in 2004 and the rest of the Detroit period in 2005.

The British cover of Shaar's book.



Ace Records in UK issue "John Lee Hooker Presents his House Rent Boogie" CD early this year, comprising 22 rare Modern originals plus an alternate take of "House Rent Boogie" of November 1950 and a harmonica-dubbed version of the original 1951 recording of "I´m In The Mood". Hooker records his last song in late spring - an overdub to "Ali D'Oro" by Italian rock/blues star Zucchero. It´s the chorus of the song: "I lay down with an angel - I lay down - with an angel". The song is released on Zucchero's album "Shake". Hooker dies in his sleep at home in Palo Alto, California on June 21. Charly Records (who regularly had come up with some strange and some very interesting Hooker Vee-Jay compilations) issue a 3CD-set titled "Testament", comprising his famous Vee-Jay tracks. Collectables Records in US reissue nine original Hooker Vee-Jay LPs plus the Gotham tracks  in a 10CD-box titled "The Legend, The Man". Charly (now often on the Snapper and RPM labels) continue their by now 20-year old tradition of releasing compilations and "full-session" issues of Hooker material (mostly Vee-Jay, but also several recordings from other labels - like the Tomato 1977 session and the London 1964 session).

The John Lee Hooker Foundation (established right after Hooker´s death) gets international recognition. Zakiya Hooker and John Lee Hooker, Jr. keep Hooker´s tradition alive together with the whole Hooker Estate.

An official John Lee Hooker web site - is founded, and 2003 is declared "The Year of the Blues". The Besman/Siracuse "Boogie Chillen´" CD is issued and later that year the Virgin/EMI CD series "Blues Kingpins" (one CD devoted to Hooker, "Blues Immortal") hits the U.S. market (both CDs featuring Modern classics). In September Zakiya produces a completely new Hooker CD in co-operation with Eagle Records and the John Lee Hooker Estate Management. The album is titled "Face To Face", featuring unissued Hooker recordings from the 1980s and 1990s, and late-recordings including "Loving People", featuring Deacon Jones, organ (some files say Duke Jethro); Dan Zemelman, pno; Anthony Cook, Billy Johnson, and Robert Young, gtrs; Joe Thomas, bs; Marlon Green,dms; and the nice voices of Terrance Kelly, Gail Benson, and Tina Bryant - the song written by Hooker, Zakiya and producer Ollan Christopher Bell - recorded in 1991.  This CD is the first in a series to be issued on Eagle Records.

In April a 2CD-set on the British label Metro Doubles, titled "Early Years - The Classic Savoy Sessions" is issued comprising the Savoy Jazz/Atlantic early Elmber Barbee/Joe Von Battle recordings of 1948-49 plus the Savoy session of circa 1961. A terrific JLH DVD on Eagle is issued in May, titled "Come See About Me". In June Collectables in the U.S. issue "I' m The Boogie Man" comprising 23 King/Federal/DeLuxe tracks from 1948-1953 - including the never-before-issued "My Baby Left Me" from a Battle-session of 1953 and 15 of the 16 Texas Slim tracks (all 16, undubbed Texas Slim tracks, are later issued on a Varese CD titled "I´m A Boogie Man" - also including the three rare Battle DeLuxe tracks).

The sixth and last of the 2-set CD series "The Complete John Lee Hooker" is issued on Body & Soul. Now all of Hooker's Detroit period (except for four Fortune tracks) is covered. The next "natural" chronological CD to include more than 20 recordings of Hooker's career is the "John Lee Hooker on Vee-Jay, 1955-1958" CD (starting with one Vee-Jay singlie in 1955). During the original rock ' n' roll years of 1956-1958 Hooker delivered a total of a further seven Vee-Jay singles (although Hooker toured heavily).

In the early months the reissue label Hip-O releases a 20-track collection featuring recordings from Hooker's long career (from "Boogie Chillen'" to "The Healer"), titled "The Definitve Collection", which serves as an almost perfect sample for a Hooker "beginner". Hip-O follow up with a 2CD-set featuring a further more 15 classics in April, 2007, titled "Gold". During the Summer Proper Records (ex-Charly) issue i nice litte "public domain" 4CD-box titled "The Boogie Man", featuring 98 recordings from the Detroit-period (including the Modern hits and several psedonym recordings). On October 31 a 4CD-box, titled "Hooker" is issued on Shout!Factory in co-operation with the Hooker Estate, covering the whole of Hooker's career. The Box really has all the true gems and is THE TRUE HOOKER ANTHOLOGY featuring 26 Detroit 48-55, 26 Chicago 56-64, 15 Coast-to-Coast 65-91 and 17 Frisco 88-98 recordings.

Need Some Money:
John Lee Hooker estate, pursued by IRS, licenses catalogue

This scoop from Billboard today /May 19, 2006/ just about breaks our heart:

John Lee Hooker could not read or write, according to his daughter, but the legendary Delta bluesman's estate is hoping to educate a new legion of fans about his 50-year musical legacy. The Hooker estate, which is controlled by daughter Zakiya Hooker, has licensed five of his best-selling albums from the '80s and '90s to reissue specialist Shout Factory for release in North America and two discs for release in Europe. The six-figure deal is for seven years."

John Lee Hooker 4CD Box set on Shout out on October 31, 2006.To even see JLH's name in print about pains me. Back in the mid 90s, when I'd just gotten back from China and was working as a house slave for Charlie Rose, I tried to book Hooker on the show. It turned out, John Lee hated to fly, and wasn't gonna come to New York; Charlie wasn't about to fly to Detroit. Not making that segment happen remains my most unhappy career moment to date. Of course, Charlie would go to DC to tape a whole special on Johannes Vermeer, but... That I didn't push Charlie to go to Detroit, now that that John Lee is lamentably gone forever, simply kills me.

Well, anyway. There is some good news in the Billboard piece: "Out by year's end will be an 84-track, four-disc boxed set, the first ever for Hooker. Shout Factory chief operating officer Bob Emmer expects half the material on the $59.98 set to come from its newly acquired albums, while the other half will be licensed from current rights holders, including EMI, Fantasy and Vee-Jay."  I am preordering that monster right now.
Track listing  (AllMusicGuide with review)

John Lee Hooker Box Set Named #1 Reissue of the Year by Rolling Stone in December 2006
and # 1 Reissue of the Year at the Blues Foundation Awards in May 2007     /
more on this/

Shout!Factory start to reissue CDs from Hooker's Rosebud years - now with bonus tracks, and also reissue the legendary "I'm John Lee Hooker" album.

32 tracks are included on the Shout!Factory 2-CD-set "John Lee Hooker Anthology - 50 Years" (with 30 of the tracks from the "Hooker" 4 CD-set plus "Jealous" and "Boogie from Russian Hill").

Compiled by Claus Röhnisch

John Lee at YouTube

Listen to 8+ minutes of
John Lee Hooker with Elvin Bishop
live in Arkansas, 1988




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John Lee Hooker, Jr.



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A short tribute

The Guardian Obituary
John Lee Hooker
Blues musician whose career spanned six decades -
Blues giant whose raw voice and singular guitar bridged generations
by Tony Russell,  June 22 & 23, 2001


In the long history of the blues there has been no figure more singular than John Lee Hooker, who has died aged 83. Where other singers rhymed, he sang in blank verse; where other guitarists might skip through the changes, he would play entire songs on one or two chords; and where other blues veterans were fortunate to be rediscovered once, he bounced repeatedly from obscurity back into the limelight. For most African-American musicians of Hooker's generation, to title an album Mr Lucky would be to exercise at least a little irony, but he did enjoy more strokes of good fortune than usually come a bluesman's way. That he could draw about him, even in old age, a crowd of admiring fellow musicians and would-be collaborators was largely due to the hypnotic effect of his music, to the mantra-like chanting over the relentlessly repetitive beat of guitar and foot, which absorbs listeners into a huge heartbeat. Those qualities were evident in his first hit, Boogie Chillen (1948), an apparently impromptu synthesis of spoken narrative and sung verses with abrupt gear-changes on the guitar. Such structural wilfulness was not uncommon among the blues musicians of the 1920s and 30s, but for much of his life Hooker was exceptional, "the last," as Ry Cooder called him, "of those unstructured, free players."

So popular did he become after the success of Boogie Chillen that Hooker briefly turned into a multiple personality, recording for half a dozen labels under as many pseudonyms: Texas Slim, Delta John, Johnny Williams, Birmingham Sam & His Magic Guitar. He was based in Detroit, where he had moved in 1943, working during the day as a janitor at Dodge Motors or Comco Steel, and at night playing in nightclubs. He managed to preserve a good deal of vagueness about his early life, whether in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he was born into a family of 11 children, or in Memphis and Cincinnati, where he spent his teens. In Clarksdale his stepfather taught him guitar, including the open G tuning he would employ to such resonant effect. He also listened attentively to the obscure Mississippi bluesman Tony Hollins, from whom he derived one of his early successes, Crawling King Snake, but most of his highly personal conception of blues-singing and playing appears to have come from within him. I'm In The Mood, a characteristically skewed reconstruction of the pop song I'm In The Mood For Love, gave him another hit in 1951, but the day of the solo bluesman was passing.

In 1955 he signed with a new label, the Chicago-based Vee Jay Records, and began to work with small backing groups. The other musicians flattened his more baroque rhythmic contours and some of the hectic excitement was lost, but the success of Dimples (1956) proved the change of setting was commercially astute. While maintaining his name in the ghetto record-stores he also, exceptionally, developed a parallel career as a "folk blues" artist, playing without amplification and recalling songs from an earlier, more rural era of the blues. "I have created about three fields," he would say proudly. "A folk field, a blues field, and a jump field for the kids. If it was necessary I could do hillbilly stuff". Such dexterity enabled him, in the early 60s, both to perform at the Newport Folk Festival and to have a hit in the rhythm 'n' blues chart with Boom Boom, which entered the British top 20 in 1964 and made possible a succession of UK tours.

By the late 60s the folk-blues bubble had burst and Hooker's audiences were now almost entirely white. In the 70s he collaborated with Canned Heat and Van Morrison, and in 1980 he made a celebrated cameo appearance as a street musician in the film The Blues Brothers. But by then he seemed to have wearied of touring and recording, and when the near-silence prolonged itself through the 80s it was assumed he had retired. It was the guitarist Roy Rogers and Hooker's manager Mike Kappus who reactivated his career, pairing him with a variety of artists including Robert Cray, Los Lobos and Bonnie Raitt. The result, The Healer (1989), became the best-selling blues album ever, and Mr Lucky (1991) repeated the twinning format with Cooder, Morrison and Keith Richards. The years seemed to have added potency to his other resource, the dark, sombre instrument of his voice. "That deep, well-like sound," Cooder called it, while for Raitt it was "one of the saddest things I've ever heard."

By now as nearly a household name as a blues artist is ever permitted to be, Hooker was sought by film-makers to add an indigo shade to their soundtracks and by advertisers to fix his stamp upon brands. He even exploited himself, opening a music club in San Francisco, the Boom Boom Room. Enjoying his prosperity, he now worked only when he chose, but when he did sit down on a stage with his guitar he wove much of his old spell. Though he had been lauded in the 70s as a matchless exponent of the boogie beat, he cared more about telling a story. "Every song I sing," he said, "is something that happened to my life or somebody else's life in this world. You might lose your money or your car, or can't pay the rent - every person has had these heartaches and tribulations. That's why everybody digs the blues. When I sing these songs I feel them down deep and reach you down deep". Hooker is survived by his fourth wife, Millie, and by six children from his previous marriages, including musicians Zakiya and Robert.

• John Lee Hooker, blues musician, born August 22 1917; died June 21 2001.
| Tribute to John Lee Hooker Guaridan obituary direct |

John Lee Hooker during his late California years.



Leaving, going back down the line
Leaving, going back down the line
You don't treat me right, baby
Going to Tennessee
Tennessee, here I come
Tennessee, that's my home, going back Tennessee
I'm cutting out, cutting out, baby, cutting out
This morning, baby, oh yeah
Going home, cutting out, oh yeah
Now, baby, you give me a normal line of jive
You told me you'll always be my friend
I brought you here, now baby, you done me wrong
I'm leaving, leaving
I'm going back down the line, down the line
Oh yes, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm
When you say, goodbye
When you say, goodbye
Oh baby

- John Lee Hooker  (audio video)


Complete Session Discography
- compiled by Claus Röhnisch

JLH 1948 - 1955
The Detroit Sessions

Johnnie Lee´s Definitive Blues

The Prime Years 1955 - 1964
Vee-Jay Sessions

Johnnie Lee Hooker in Chicago

John Lee Hooker at his prime.

Sir John Lee Hooker´s
Sixties Recordings
The Album Sessions: Coast-To-Coast

A Travelin´ Blues Giant
Frisco Blues
The Albums 1970 - 1999



John Lee Hooker Sr. Memorial Program.

John Lee Hooker´s Memorial Program
This is an original program handed out at
John Lee Hooker's memorial on June 27th, 2001 at the Mormon Temple in Oakland, California. This was handed out to about 300 guests at the family service. The Program includes the order of service, participants, pallbearers and letters from
John Lee Hooker's children
Zakiya, Diane, Karen, John Jr., Robert, Shyvonne, Lavetta and Frances which were written to him in his honor. It also has a a discography on the last page.


Find out more on the Great R&B Pioneers!
at this R&B Extravaganza
- presented by Claus Röhnisch -

The Great
Vocal Groups

The Dominoes
| The Clovers | The "5" Royales | The Midnighters

The Flamingos | The Moonglows | The Drifters | The Platters
The Cadillacs
 | The Coasters | The Isley Brothers
  The Impressions
| The Miracles | The Temptations

Juke Blues

R&B Pioneers

City Blues

Early Rock Idols

Soul Pioneers

John Lee Hooker
Muddy Waters
Lightnin´ Hopkins
Jimmy Reed
Sonny Boy Williamson
Howlin´ Wolf
Elmore James
Little Walter


Lionel Hampton
Louis Jordan

Buddy Johnson
Wynonie Harris
Charles Brown
Amos Milburn

Johnny Otis
Ruth Brown

T-Bone Walker
Joe Turner
Roy Brown

B.B. King
Lowell Fulson
Ike Turner
Bobby Bland
Junior Parker


Fats Domino
Jesse Belvin

LaVern Baker
Bobby Day
Chuck Berry
Bo Diddley
Little Richard

Lloyd Price

Clyde McPhatter
Sam Cooke
Jackie Wilson
Little Willie John
Etta James

Brook Benton
James Brown
Marvin Gaye


Atlantic Records
Atlantic Soul Stars

King Curtis

Ray Charles | Chuck Willis | Solomon Burke | Joe Tex
Rufus Thomas
 | Wilson Pickett | Otis Redding | Aretha Franklin

JLH Rosebud Session Disco

Editor of this web site:

(a devoted Hooker fan since 1960)

Link Colors:

The Coasters Web Site
The Coasters Web Site
with 50 Years of R&B History

John Lee Hooker cont´d - page 1
Singles and Ultimate CDs


The Great Blues & R&B Artists
Artist Links to the Great Blues & R&B Acts
and their Great Records

  • Johnny "Guitar" Watson | Gatemouth Brown | Richard Berry | Young Jessie - (disco) | Ernie K-Doe | The Dells | The Five Keys