Hobo Blues

John Lee Hooker

Live in ’65

John Lee Hooker performs live in Europe at the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival.

John’s stepfather was his first outstanding blues influence. William Moore was a local blues guitarist who learned to play a droning, one-chord blues in Shreveport, Louisiana that was strikingly different from the Delta blues of the day. Around 1923 his natural father died. At the age of 15, John Lee Hooker ran away from home, reportedly never seeing his mother or stepfather again.

Throughout the 1930s, Hooker lived in Memphis, Tennessee where he played on Beale Street at The New Daisy Theatre and occasionally performed at house parties. He worked in factories in various cities during World War II, drifting until he found himself in Detroit in 1948 working at Ford Motor Company. He felt right at home near the blues venues and saloons on Hastings Street, the heart of black entertainment on Detroit’s east side. In a city noted for its pianists, guitar players were scarce. Performing in Detroit clubs, his popularity grew quickly and, seeking a louder instrument than his acoustic guitar, he bought his first electric guitar.

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