DIMPLES – CHESS USA /Pye and Stateside UK
I’M IN THE MOOD
WALKIN THE BOOGIE – (1952)
Born 22nd August 1917 – Clarksdale, Mississippi
Died 21st June 2001 – Los Altos, California
The dual twanging guitar sound on ‘Dimples’ was very simple but distinctive and it made this track his big hit with the early blues and soul crowd at the Twisted Wheel circa 1964. Earlier recordings played at the Old Wheel (Manchester) included CRAWLIN’ KINGSNAKE, BOOM BOOM, BOOGIE CHILLUN, WALKIN THE BOOGIE (1952) and quite a few LP tracks. His voice is still unmistakeable, rather like a singing Lee Marvin but one that could really hold a tune.
John Lee toured the UK in 1962 returning in 1964 after his hit with DIMPLES. He played at the Twisted Wheel Manchester were he met his backing band the Groundhogs for the first time. They idolised John Lee and after a short, very short rehearsal gave one of the best blues performances I have ever heard. He appeared there quite a few times.
The healing Shaman of the Blues. A magnificent artist and a very wise human being.
John Lee is the healer, the Blues can heal.
His stepfather, Will Moore, was the one supposedly who hung and nailed an old inner-tube on the shed wall to get that Hooker twang sound. (Bill Wyman talks about this in the DVD Black White And Blues).
1943 After living in Memphis and Cincinnati, he moved to Chicago and the club scene in Hastings Street.
1948 “Sally Mae” / “Boogie Chillun.”
1950 He got the name the Boogie Man – “Hobo Blues” / “Hoogie Boogie” “Crawling King Snake Blues”
1951 “I’m in the Mood”
1960 “No Shoes” then “Boom Boom” (Rumoured to have Motown backing/Vandellas)
1970 working with Canned Heat: Hooker ‘n’ Heat – triple album ‘should be triple money for a triple album man’. Canned Heat should really have been called The John Lee Hooker Appreciation Society – they took his best riffs and added their own magic. Also in the seventies Dr. Feelgood did the track ‘Milk and Alcohol, a homage to Hooker which condemned his exploitation in their eyes. The implication was that he would soon be dead from a diet of milk and whisky. However, as irony would have it, John Lee Hooker outlived Dr. Feelgood’s vocalist, Lee Brilleaux. by several years.
1980 The Blues Brothers film shows how he started out busking, singing in the Streets of Chicago.
John Lee never went away. He had hits in the 1990s with Bonny Raitt re-visiting 1959’s “I’m in the Mood” and releasing hit CDs into the 21st centaury with a host of stars contributing including Carlos Santana.