Keeping the Blues Alive / Blues News  / EARL HOOKER – Off The Hook

Earl Hooker – Off The Hook is this week’s “Blues Video of The Week.”

Earl Hooker, a Chicago blues guitarist known for his slide guitar playing. As a result, he performed with Blues artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Junior Wells and John Lee Hooker.  In between recording gigs, he would front his own bands. 

Hooker is an early player of the electric guitar and influenced by the modern styles of T-Bone Walker and Robert Nighthawk. He recorded several singles and albums as a bandleader and with other well-known artists.

His “Blue Guitar”, a slide guitar instrumental single, was popular in the Chicago area. Consequently, it is later overdubbed with vocals by Muddy Waters and released as the hit “You Shook Me”.

In the late 1960s, Hooker began performing on the college and concert circuit and had several recording contracts. His guitar playing is acknowledged by many of his peers, including B.B. King, who commented, “To me he is the best of modern guitarists. Period. With the slide he was the best. It was nobody else like him, he was just one of a kind!”

He would tour relentlessly in the Delta then up around Chicago until he’d have to be hospitalized. Then, later he would discharge himself when he would feel good enough to get on his feet. It was a cycle that he repeated over and over.  Furthermore, just as his career was on an upswing, he died in 1970, at age 40, after a lifelong struggle with tuberculosis.  

Keeping the Blues Alive

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