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Earl Hooker Profile

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Earl Hooker's Simply The Best

Earl Hooker's Simply The Best

Photo courtesy Geffen Records

Earl Hooker Profile:

Born: January 15, 1930 in Clarksdale MS

Died: April 21, 1970 in Chicago IL

Respected by his peers, in demand for his talents, blues guitarist Earl Hooker left an indelible mark on the Chicago blues scene during the 1950s and '60s. A phenomenal slide guitarist that could play everything from blues and jazz to R&B and rock music, Hooker was the perfect session player. Although Hooker never experienced much commercial success as a recording artist, his immense talent can be heard on the work of some of blues music's biggest stars.

Learning From Nighthawk

A cousin of blues giant John Lee Hooker, Earl taught himself guitar as a kid in Mississippi. His family moved to Chicago in the early-1940s, where Hooker learned to play banjo, piano, and mandolin. As a teen, Hooker played blues music on the streets for spare change, eventually striking up a friendship with guitarist Robert Nighthawk. The elder bluesman taught the young musician the rudiments of slide guitar.

Hooker relocated to Memphis in 1949, joining Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm band and touring throughout the south. By the mid-1950s, however, Hooker had returned to Chicago and put together his first band.

All-Purpose Sideman

Working as both a solo artist and sideman for producer Mel London, 1959-1963, Hooker lent his slide guitar skills to recordings by Junior Wells and A.C. Reed, among others. Through the years, Hooker also recorded with artists like Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters, and his cousin John Lee. During much of the 1960s, Hooker performed with his band in Chicago blues clubs, releasing a handful of full-length recordings before his death from TB in 1970.

Earl Hooker brought a couple of innovations to the blues during his relatively brief career. He popularized the double-neck guitar long before rock musicians picked it up, and he was the first bluesman to utilize a wah-wah pedal as part of his instrumental arsenal. Because of the tuberculosis that he suffered from early in life, Hooker wasn't a strong singer, and he often used other vocalists on his solo recordings. There's no denying the man's talents and influence as a slide guitarist, and his unique style stands out from the grooves no matter who was singing.

Recommended Albums: Hooker's Simply The Best collects many of the guitarist's best performances, including guest appearances from folks like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and the duo of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.

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