Consummate blues growler John Lee Hooker would have turned 100 this year; we’re lucky he lived as long as he did (he died in 2001) and was able to deliver his raw, authentic sound up to the end.  Those of us who live in the San Francisco Bay Area were particularly fortunate to be able to see him in local clubs and occasional blues fests in his later years, as he was one of the last giants of the post-war generation of guitar-playing bluesmen that included Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Albert King and others.

Here, in a bare-bones video from 1960, Hooker performs a haunting version of his “Tupelo Blues,” about a 1927 flood that devastated the Mississippi Delta. His playing is economical but perfect for the mood of the song. He first recorded the song in 1959 for his voice and-acoustic-guitar release The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker.

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