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Interview with
John Lee Hooker, Jr

27 October 2008

John Lee Hooker Jr may not be as famous a bluesman as his dad John Lee Hooker was yet . Life has not always been too good for Junior. Born during his dad's Detroit era in 1952, he has been described as a spoiled brat by the ones who know him closely. He has always tested his limits, bigtime. He ended up in a juvenile hall already in his early teens. Alcohol and drugs with all the 'by-products' soon followed quite logically, one could say.

The theme of his new album, "
All Odds Against Me", is to discuss a difficult past, one's own identity, and the possibility of a change towards the better. Winos, junkies and failing relationships are ever-present. During his European tour, John Lee Hooker Jr spared a moment with to discuss the new album and the experiences behind it.

"Dear John" is a song with some massive irony. Actually how much of the lyrics come from real life?

"Dear John" is a song that is part of my history. It is not entirely about me, though, but of my experience with cell mates or a prisoner down the hall -- it is a tale of the jail, one's deepest worry that one day while he is doing time, he won't get that last letter.
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"Too proud to beg, too afraid to steal" is one of the most compelling lines on the album. Could you further elaborate the, so to say, struggle within?

The lyrics of "There's a Struggle" are somewhat very true, but creative from experience in my life. Certainly I am too afraid to steal: for if caught one would spend the rest of his life in jail. 'Too proud to beg' describes how it feels to be the offspring of one of the biggest icons that ever lived. The struggle to do right is always present, but so is the sometime sleeping evil within as well.... there's a struggle.

It seems apparent your life took a major turn somewhere in the early 2000's. Any thoughts on that you would like to share with the readers?

Yes, after my dad passed, there was an ultimate choice: to make the transition from the valley to the mountain or remain buried? He was our support system, our encourager, or leaning post. But he was gone! Now I had to remember all he taught me, but one thing I knew to do was pray to one mightier than my dad, who was always there. I was as a knocked-out boxer, out for the count, and just when they thought I was gone, I am now up and on my feet.

Most of the songs on the album are credited to a whole bunch of writers. What do you consider are your strengths in song-writing?

My strengths are apparent. I write from experience, my life's experience and those that were around me in my distasteful indulgences. I have many, many experiences to write about, stay tuned!

"All Odds Against Me" obviously derives from many different kinds of influences; blues, jazz, funk... Who are the musicians and other persons that have influenced you the most -- both musically and in life?

Very simple and to the point, I guess I need not mention his name, but it goes with out saying, John Lee Hooker was the front  man in my career. Others include B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, Johnny Guitar Watson, Lou Rawls, Stevie Wonder, to mention but a few.

What do you think of "Bluesman", the animated superhero?

Bluesman is someone I have wanted to be all of my life. To fight against the same evils that have held me back most of my life, and to sing to audiences all over the world and to see the smiling faces are the greatest things in the world. This is my dream come true, this is my fantasy come true, this is or would be the life I choose to live -- fighting the evils of the world and making peace by singing the blues.

You seem to do a lot of gigs in Turkey. How come?

The people of Turkey love the blues as well, they too are going through the blues stages of life.

Any chance of seeing you in Finland any time soon? Do you have any knowledge or experiences of the country?

Never been to Finland. As they say back home: hook me up, get my management in touch with the Finnish promoters. I don't know too much about the Finns. I would be glad to get to know them.

Your message to the readers of

Never let anyone tell you that you can't or that you won't make it. Don't do drugs, don't smoke, pray always, and love everyone no matter their financial status, race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender, religion, sexual preference.


Links: John Lee Hooker
website and MySpace, Jazzhaus Records

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John Lee Hooker, Jr
Sheryl Crowe