‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Hobo Blues’: Great Performances by John Lee Hooker

Like millions of African Americans in the early 20th century, the bluesman John Lee Hooker made the Great Migration from the rural South to the urban North. Traveling a circuitous route from his native Clarksdale, Mississippi, Hooker settled in 1943 in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked at a car factory by day and played in the blues clubs by night. In 1948 his first single, “Boogie Chillen,’” rose to number one on the rhythm and blues charts and introduced Hooker’s unique style of electric blues, which sounded closer to the Mississippi Delta than Chicago. It was a style that would have an enormous impact on rock and roll. Hooker’s driving, one-chord boogie rhythms can be heard in the music of the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, George  Thorogood and countless others. Today we bring you two of our favorite videos of Hooker. Above is a performance, circa 1970, of Hook’s classic 1961 single, “Boom Boom.” Below is a 1965 performance from the American Folk Blues Festival of his second, lesser-known single from 1948, “Hobo Blues.”

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