John Lee Hooker: Tupelo

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Today is the birthday of the great John Lee Hooker (1917-2001), one of the most distinctive blues stylists of all time. It’s impossible to name his most famous songs without hearing them in your head: “Boogie Chillen” (1948), “I’m in the Mood” (1951) and “Boom Boom” (1962). He also did memorable covers of blues standards such as “Baby, Please Don’t Go”.

Hooker also had a very distinctive look, which provided the inspiration for the costumes for John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd when they played the Blues Brothers. They honored his contribution by putting him in their 1980 film The Blues Brothers.

Especially in his early years, Hooker had a very unique style of writing and playing all his own, quite different from the more customary, twelve bar, three-chord structure. Some of his tunes just noodle along on a single chord. I have always been a huge fan of “Tupelo” his eerie, spooky commemoration of a famous flood:

To find out more about  the history of show businessconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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