“The Official Website” thinks that John Lee Hooker (JLH) was born in 1917. Wikipedia, with some research links in the footnotes, says that he was born in 1912. Both agree that he died on June 21st in 2001.
Although today is the 16th anniversary of his passing, whenever, whatever, no excuse is needed to offer a compilation of his music, some by him, some by those he inspired, and some with those he inspired.
John Lee Hooker & Van Morrison – Baby Please Don’t Go
That song’s history goes back to the 20s and 30s with blues singers such as Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Leadbetter, Tampa Red, and Charley Patton recording variants, as did Lightnin’ Hopkins in 1947. The Muddy Waters’ Chicago blues version first released on Chess records in 1953 infiltrated the music awareness of British teenagers as they gradually got fed up with the British ‘cloned’ rock ‘n’ rollers with names changed to reflect their supposed anti-social status: Fury, Steele, Storm, Power et al.
Personal note: my Sunday School teacher cried all through Sunday morning service: she’d been ‘jilted’ by Reg Smith, aka Marty Wilde.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s Chris Barber was largely responsible for arranging the first UK tours of blues artists Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Sonny Boy Williamson (the 2nd). This, with the encouragement of local enthusiasts such as Alexis Korner and John Mayall, sparked young musicians such as Peter Green, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. It was rhythm and blues which powered the British invasion of the USA charts in the 1960s.
The Belfast group Them, fronted by the then 19-year-old Van Morrison, recorded Baby Please Don’t Go in 1964, and the groups’ (mimed) appearance on TV shows such as Top Of The Pops (video ) captured the imagination of the British generation just getting used to beat groups because it was raw and loud. Van Morrison had heard and felt “something really unique and different [with] more soul” about John Lee Hooker’s version on the 1959 album Highway of Blues. (He’d first recorded the song in 1949.)
And, yes, although I’m not a musician, Them’s hit single lead me down a path of music exploration I often return to.
So this is today’s download.
01. John Lee Hooker – Please Don’t Go (1949)
02. Them – Baby Please Don’t Go (1964)
03. The Amboy Dukes – Baby Please Don’t Go (1968 – USA)
04. Baptism of Uzi – Baby Please Don’t Go (2012 – Aus)
05. John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom
06. Alan Price – Boom Boom (ex-Animals)
07. Long John Baldry – Dimples
08. John Lee Hooker – House Rent Boogie
09. John Lee Hooker & Bonnie Raitt – I’m In The Mood
10. John Lee Hooker & Ry Cooder – Crawling King Snake
11. Ry Cooder – John Lee Hooker For President
12. Hugo Race & Michelangelo Russo – Hobo Blues (2017 – Aus)