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John Lee Hooker, Jr.

06/18/2009 07:11AM ● Published by Super Admin

Photo by Dante Fontana.

It’s the blues baby!” John Lee Hooker, Jr., says when asked about his music. And this guy knows the blues.

He has written and performs such songs as “Dear John” – yes, it’s a letter he received in prison, “Extramarital Affair,” living life and not loving your wife on the road, “There’s A Struggle,” the ongoing internal fight of dealing with daily demons, and other songs where he belts out lyrics about the trials and tribulations of a hard life lived. “I can sing the blues,” Hooker says, “but I can make it humorous.”

Addiction, incarceration, divorce and just plain old bad luck have hounded this dynamic singer and entertainer. But no more, Hooker has a new CD, All Odds Against Me, his second Grammy nomination, and a great attitude.

He and his wife live quietly in Roseville. “I have the perfect house with a pool and bar-b-que,” he says. He credits the support of his family, friends and his faith for his ability to be clean and sober for so many years. To quote the lyrics from his song “I Miss You So,” about trying to recoup a lost love: “Just in case you didn’t know...I don’t drink no mo’...clean and sober...seven years this October.”

Hooker was born into royal blues. His grandfather, William Moore, born in 1894, was a well-known singer in the Mississippi Delta. His father John Lee Hooker, born in Mississippi in 1920, brought blues to Detroit and was a prominent and important factor on the blues scene for decades. Hooker, Jr., learned how to sing from infancy. “I grew up on the blues,” he explains, “a baby with a bottle waking up hearing my dad playing guitar.” Although his famous name may have opened doors, he does not share the same musical style and genre of his father. Hooker explains his sound as, “two parts R&B, one part jazz and one part down-home blues.”

He was born in the Motor City, one of seven children. “We were like a wolf pack,” he remembers, “we ate, slept and fought together.” Hooker started performing early, making his live debut at eight years old on WJBK radio in his hometown. He was a teen when he started touring with his dad, and at age 18, he was a featured soloist on his father’s 1967 release Live at Café Au Go-Go (And Soledad Prison). Then personal problems took Hooker away from his music and the spotlight, but now he’s back and living large. He has two other CDs to his credit, Blues With a Vengeance and his first Grammy-nominated Cold As Ice, released in 2006.

John Lee Hooker, Jr., performs locally in Sacramento and San Francisco. However, his sound reaches around the country and into Europe, Africa and Australia. “Europe loves American things,” Hooker says, “and there is nothing more American than the blues.” •


For more information about John Lee Hooker, Jr., visit johnleehookerjr.com.

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