Blues Then and Now - The History of the Blues (Chapter 3, page 1 of 16)


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Chapter 3

The 1950s brought on an abundance of blues singers from the south to settle in northern cities. With the appearance of Charley Patton. 'Son' House, Muddy Waters, "Howlin" Wolf, Robert Johnson and now John Lee Hooker, it seems that the Delta has claimed more famous artists than any other region in the south.

John Lee Hooker, born on August 22, 1917 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he remained until the age of 30. In I947, he migrated north to Detroit stopping along the way in Memphis and Cincinnati to work in the factories to earn traveling money before arriving at his final destination in Detroit. While in Detroit, John could often be seen and heard playing his guitar on the corner of Hastings Street and Piquette Avenue where people would put money in a hat he had sitting on the sidewalk.

John Lee was gifted with a pleasant rich voice that was very effective on slow blues as can be heard on his ''Cold Chills All Over Me," on the Modern label. His first record, "Boogie Chiller" for Modern Records was an immediate success, which proved that he could do fast, rhythmic tunes as well as slow ballads. Initially, all of his records were recorded on the 78RPM records. But, in 1959 on the Riverside label he recorded his first LP (long playing) album. "Black Snake" proved to be a true typical session of blues music and was highly accepted by the public.

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