Thorogood, B.B. King Remember Hooker As Great Friend And Musician

Legendary bluesman died in his sleep at age 83 on Thursday.

Blues patriarch John Lee Hooker may have been known for his one-chord guitar playing, but that was enough to inspire countless musicians to get their boogie on.
“He was timeless, he was priceless and he was precious,” Hooker’s close friend George Thorogood said backstage before a show in London on Friday night. “And I won’t say the world is a little colder now — I’ll just say that heaven is a little warmer.”
Thorogood, who met Hooker in 1971, had a radio hit in 1977 with the Boogie Man’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” He dedicated Friday’s show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire to his friend.

One of the last links to the original Delta bluesmen, Hooker died in his sleep at age 83 in his Los Altos, California, home on Thursday, just days after giving his final performance in nearby Santa Rosa (see “Legendary Bluesman John Lee Hooker Dead at 83″ ).

“I know I’ve lost a good friend, and the world has lost a great talent,” B.B. King said in a statement. “He was the best at what he did.”
Hooker, known for his hypnotic grooves and deep growl, estimated he recorded more than 100 albums since cutting his first single, “Boogie Chillen,” in 1948. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2000 Grammys. Among the scores of musicians who have cited Hooker as an influence or have covered his songs are the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt and Ben Harper.

“When I was a child, he was the first circus I wanted to run away with,” Santana said in a statement.

Bassist Billy Blough of Thorogood’s backing group, the Destroyers, said Hooker is “probably the reason for this band’s existence.”
Born in August 1917 near Clarksdale, Mississippi, Hooker was one of 11 children. He began singing spiritual music at a young age, but he credited his stepfather, William Moore, with fueling his love for blues by teaching him guitar. After stints in Memphis and Cincinnati, he eventually made his way to Detroit and began building a reputation in the Motor City’s blues scene. His popularity soared during the 1950s blues revival with such hits as “Boom Boom” and “Dimples.”
“What a loss to the blues world, and how sad having known him so well and for so long,” British blues pioneer John Mayall said in a statement. “He’s always been one of the foundation stones in my blues roster of influences, and I’ll miss him.”
Mayall’s Bluesbreakers were hired as Hooker’s backing band for a summer 1964 tour, and Hooker appeared on Mayall’s 1999 release, Padlock on the Blues. He helped pass on Hooker’s mojo by influencing such artists as Clapton and Mick Taylor as well as Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, who went on to form Fleetwood Mac.

In the ’60s, Hooker won over folk fans by switching to a solo acoustic format, while rock acts like the Stones proclaimed him as an influence.

Though blues’ popularity declined, Hooker continued play live, write music and record throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. His final studio album was 1997′s Don’t Look Back.
“Any [musician] who has been doing his own thing for so long to the point where you have so much respect for them, you almost want to be them,” former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash said. “The real traditional, down-home blues guitar playing has always been a huge influence on me and countless other guitar players. You could talk to anyone from Eddie Van Halen to Eric Clapton and they’ll tell you that.”
Hooker made a comeback with 1989′s The Healer, featuring guest appearances from Santana, Los Lobos and Robert Cray. The album’s duet with Bonnie Raitt on “I’m in the Mood” earned him his first Grammy Award.

“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and one of the last and greatest of the original Delta bluesmen,” Raitt said in a statement Thursday. “John Lee’s power and influence in the world of rock, R&B, jazz and blues are a legacy that will never die. Getting to know him and work with him these last 30 years has truly been one of the greatest joys of my life. I’m so very grateful to have known him and know that he went not in pain, truly loved and appreciated the world ’round.”
Cray, who is credited with helping revive the blues in the ’80s, said, “I loved John Lee, and I’ll never forget him. In my mind right now, all I can see is John Lee surrounded by people who love him.”
“A few years back, we lost a lot of great players, like my dad, Johnny Copeland, and Luther Allison,” said Shemekia Copeland, who released her acclaimed second album, Wicked, last year. “They were younger, but you just kind of expected John Lee Hooker to live forever.”
Even with the passing of one of its greatest stars, the blues flame burns bright, with artists like Kenny Wayne Shepherd carrying the torch.

“I was only fortunate enough to meet John Lee Hooker once, but I’ve listened to his music my whole life,” the 24-year-old Shepherd said Friday in a statement. “He lived the hard life when he was young, and it made his music as real as it gets. His impact on blues and rock and roll will always be huge, and everyone who plays and sings should thank him every day for what he gave us.”
Memorial services for Hooker were still being finalized at press time. A private funeral will likely be held on Wednesday, with a possible public service to follow a few days later, according to Hooker’s management office.