John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1916 – June 21, 2001) was an influential American blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. From a musical family, he is a cousin of Earl Hooker.
Though he stuttered in his normal speech, he performed in a half-spoken style that became his trademark. Rhythmically, his music was free, a property common with early acoustic Delta blues musicians. His vocal phrasing was less closely tied to specific bars than most blues singers'. This casual, rambling style had been gradually diminishing with the onset of electric blues bands from Chicago but, even when not playing solo, Hooker retained it in his sound.
Attracted by factory work, Hooker moved to Detroit in 1943, where he would reside until 1969. He felt right at home near the blues venues and saloons on Hastings Street, the heart of black entertainment on Detroit's east side. Hooker's recording career began in 1948 with the hit single, "Boogie Chillen," cut in a studio near Wayne State University.
He maintained a solo career, popular with blues aficionados and folk music fans of the early 1960s and crossed over to white audiences, giving an early opportunity to the young Bob Dylan.
He appeared and sang in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.
In 1989 he joined with a number of musicians, including Keith Richards and Carlos Santana to record The Healer, which won a Grammy award — one of many awards.
He fell ill just before a tour of Europe in 2001 and died soon afterwards.
Hooker recorded over 100 albums and lived the last years of his life in San Francisco, where he licensed a nightclub to use the name Boom Boom Room, after one of his hits.
Among his many awards, John Lee Hooker has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 1991 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Two of his songs, "Boogie Chillun" and "Boom Boom" were named to the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
John Lee recorded several songs with Van Morrison, including "Never get out of these blues alive", "The healing game" and "I cover the waterfront". He also appeared on stage with Van Morrison several times, some of which was released on the live album "A night in San Francisco".