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Blues pioneer John Lee Hooker dead at 83



SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- John Lee Hooker, whose growling voice and spare guitar helped define the American blues, died Thursday at age 83.

The Rosebud Agency, which represented Hooker, said he died in his sleep Thursday morning at his home in San Francisco.

"I love to sit down and do my thing, you know, because I love the blues," Hooker told CNN in September 2000. "I was born with the blues, and I just dig it. Nothing else I want to do, and I wouldn't do anything else in the world but this."

Hooker was born in 1917 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of a Baptist minister and sharecropper. He began performing as a teen-ager, and like many of his contemporaries he moved north to find work.

Hooker began recording in 1948 in Detroit, Michigan, where the song "Boogie Chillen" made him a star. Together with fellow Mississippian Muddy Waters and Texas native Lightnin' Hopkins, Hooker shaped a large part of the what fans today recognize as the blues.

He cemented his reputation with songs like "Boom Boom," "Crawlin' King Snake" and "I'm in the Mood," which melded the country blues of his native Mississippi Delta with the sound of the electric guitar.

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"He is one of a kind," guitarist B.B. King told CNN last year. "One note of John Lee Hooker and I know that's who it is."

Hooker's music influenced a rising generation of rock and roll players from Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones to Bruce Springsteen and ZZ Top.

"Do I think I'm cool? I don't know," Hooker told CNN last year. "I know I'm for real."

He made a comeback of sorts with the 1990 album "The Healer," which featured duets with guitarists Robert Cray, Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt.

His duet with Raitt on "I'm in the Mood" won Hooker his first Grammy Award, and in 1991 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hooker won two more Grammys in 1997, one for traditional blues and another pop duet with Morrison; he received a a lifetime achievement award in 2000. He lent his name to a San Francisco blues club, John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room, which opened in 1997.

An exact discography is difficult to come by because he recorded under several different names, as did many musicians of early blues era. Hooker once estimated he had recorded more than 100 albums.





RELATED STORY:
• John Lee Hooker: 'Soul to soul'
November 13, 2000

RELATED SITES:
• The Rosebud Agency - John Lee Hooker
• Virgin Records - John Lee Hooker
• Boom Boom Room

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