STOP what you’re doing! We found more bad-ass live footage of John Lee Hooker that you MUST see
09:22 am
STOP what you’re doing! We found more bad-ass live footage of John Lee Hooker that you MUST see

John Lee Hooker
In 2015, we strongly urged you, the reader, to drop whatever you were doing and watch this amazing live footage of John Lee Hooker. Many of you rightly heeded our advice, resulting in one of the most popular Dangerous Minds posts of the last few years. The video clips in that post are from a 1970 TV broadcast of Detroit Tubeworks, which was shot on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. Hooker moved to the Motor City in the late 1930s, and, beginning in the late 1940s, recorded all of his initial classic tunes (including his debut, “Boogie Chillin’”) at United Sound, which is a stone’s throw from Wayne’s campus.

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of John Lee Hooker’s birth (he was born on August 22, 1917). With an event held on the day of the centennial, the Detroit Sound Conservancy celebrated by making JLH their first Hall of Fame inductee. It was the only happening in the city supported by the Hooker estate (I’m on the Board of Directors at the DSC).
Fantasy photo
Another estate-sanctioned undertaking that’s been in the works is a new John Lee Hooker boxed set. Due on October 6th, King of the Boogie is a 100 track, 5 CD set spanning his entire career, with rare tracks and a disc of live recordings, plus a 56 page book. Various bundles are available to pre-order in the store on the official John Lee Hooker site. The standard edition of the box is on Amazon.
King Of The Boogie
One of John Lee’s most famous numbers is “Boom Boom,” a #1 R&B hit from 1961. It was written in Detroit and inspired by a phrase regularly directed at him before gigs at a local venue. This place, like United Sound, is a Detroit music landmark.

“I come in the club that night – they called it Apex Bar. I was playing there every weekend. And every night there’d be a girl in there. Her name was Willa. She was a bartender. I never would be on time; I always would be late comin’ in. And she kept saying, ‘Boom, boom – you late again.’ Every night: ‘Boom, boom – you late again.’ I said, ‘Hmm, that’s a song!’ I put it together and I was playin’ it there in the club before I recorded it. People would really get up and go wild when I played that song. They would get on their feets and holler, ‘That’s a great song, man.’ I recorded it, and it just took off like wildfire.” (from the King of the Boogie liner notes, written by Jas Obrecht)

Reuther photo
Detroit Blues Festival, August 27, 1982. (courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library)

The must-see clips of John Lee Hooker we’ve assembled for you this time were captured at the Antibes Juan-les-Pins Jazz Festival in France on July 26, 1969, and aired on French TV. “Boom Boom” is up first, followed by “Maudie,” which Hooker wrote for his wife.

A group of blues all-stars back JLH: Willie Dixon’s on bass; Sunnyland Slim, piano; Clifton James plays the drums; and Johnny Shines is on guitar. The Crawlin’ King Snake plays guitar here, too, his signature style being a splendorific combination of rhythm, drive and slack. It ain’t called “Hooker blues” for nothin’.

Damn, do these guys ever tear it up. The shit is sublime and intense.


WAIT, STOP THE PRESSES!! Just a couple of days ago, the “dude” (that’s his user name) who posted the Detroit Tubeworks clips of Hooker on YouTube, uploaded a new, extended version of the broadcast, with one additional song. The tune? “Boom Boom”! And it’s a version so sweet even John Lee can’t help but crack a smile midway through.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
You HAVE to see this live footage of John Lee Hooker from 1970. Really. Just drop what you’re doing.

Posted by Bart Bealmear
09:22 am



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