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The BBC's David Willis
"One of the most influential blues musicians"
 real 56k

Charles Shaar Murray, Biographer for John Lee Hooker
"A unique and distinctive performer"
 real 28k

Friday, 22 June, 2001, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Blues legend Hooker dies
Hooker
John Lee Hooker: Influenced Rolling Stones
One of the most influential blues musicians of the 20th Century, guitarist, John Lee Hooker, has died in his sleep in California.

Despite his age - he was in his 80s - he had maintained a full performing schedule and received an ecstatic ovation from his audience at the weekend.


There are no superlatives to describe the profound impact John Lee left in our hearts

Guitarist Carlos Santana

One of 11 children of a Mississippi farm worker, John Lee Hooker was taught the guitar by his stepfather, and ran away from home at 14 to play and sing in Memphis and Detroit.

In 1948, a record of his song, Boogie Chillen, was an immediate success and other hits followed.

Rediscovered

In a statement, guitarist Carlos Santana said: "There are no superlatives to describe the profound impact John Lee left in our hearts.

"For musicians and common people - all of us feel enormous gratitude, respect, admiration and love for his spirit."


He was definitely the last of the really huge popular blues guys

Frank Alkyer, Downbeat Magazine

In the early 60s, Hooker's reputation grew, with best-sellers like Boom Boom and Dimples, and up-and-coming rock stars, including The Rolling Stones, acknowledged his influence on them.

In 1989, he was "rediscovered" and producer Roy Rogers recorded Hooker playing with such performers as Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray and George Thorogood.

In 1992, Boom Boom was re-released and became an even bigger hit in Britain than it had been in the 60s.

Frank Alkyer, editorial director for Downbeat Magazine, a leading jazz and blues journal, said Hooker's death was a huge loss for the blues.

Smile

While it had been decades since Hooker had written a new song, it seemed like every decade younger musicians were recording his music, he said.

"He was definitely the last of the really huge popular blues guys. Besides B B King, who else has that kind of stature? In the pantheon of the blues I would put him in the top 3, at a minimum top 5 of jazz and blues artists.

At a performance last weekend in Santa Rosa, California, Hooker once again tore through his catalogue of hits.

"He was playing the boogie and he had quite a few fans and friends up on stage," Bates said.

"He had a big smile on his face as he's always had his entire life."

Hooker died at his Los Altos home, near San Francisco.

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