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Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century Paperback – March 18, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (March 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312270062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312270063
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

John Lee Hooker became an overnight sensation in the '80s after more than 40 years at his craft. The springboard for his "discovery" was the Grammy-winning album The Healer, which featured Bonnie Raitt and Carlos Santana among other younger musicians. This gambit, too, was not new, for Hooker had recorded Hooker 'n' Heat with Canned Heat in the late '60s--a truly seminal album. Hooker is one of the last surviving bluesmen with a direct lineage from the Delta blues tradition and for years was king of Detroit's blues scene. Murray's extensive bio goes all the way back to the beginning in a sprawling literary effort worthy of Hooker's lengthy career. Like many American blues artists, Hooker was revered by the early '60s English rockers, yet unlike Muddy Waters, widespread pop music interest in Hooker was slow to build. Nevertheless, Hooker's music is a national treasure; anybody who has ever boogied to George Thorogood's recording of Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" or rocked out to ZZ Top's early recordings has heard the man's influence. Now they can read his life story in depth and celebrate Hooker and his music in a way that many of his contemporaries never lived to enjoy. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"(A) meticulously researched portrait...Hooker comes to life as a petulant, triumphant figure: complex and sometimes just unknowable, but as a genius for whom blues is as vital as a heartbeat."—Rolling Stone

"Surely the most exhaustive biography of any bluesman."—Chicago Tribune

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Customer Reviews

All in all, a very well-researched book with a mine of information.
Ian Goodall
I thank Mr Murray for writing a well researched biography and letting John Lee Hooker tell his own story.
Paul Hench
The author did his homework but buries the reader under way too much detail.
P. robb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Keenley on January 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Boogie Man" is a fascinating portrait of a fascinating man. John Lee Hooker is arguably the greatest living blues man, a man whose life virtually spanned the entire 20th century, and this is the book he deserves. Based on extensive interviews with Hooker and many of his contemporaries, the reader experiences Hooker's life, his influences, his motivations, and, most important, his music as if one were sitting at his knee listening to him playing his guitar and telling stories. In addition, Charles Shaar Murray does a magnificent job of placing Hooker and his inimitable style within its historical, sociological, cultural, and musical context, including several interesting "sidebars" on the history of the blues, the nature of blues music, and that intangible something that makes Hooker so unique and so influential.
However, the book has one major flaw that will keep many readers, especially those who are not blues aficionados, from completely enjoying it. It is written in the hep-cat, daddy-o style that music critics and biographers seem to be compelled to employ and that readers of music criticism and biography have come to know and hate. Because of this, the author himself is so prominently present on virtually every page of the book. "Boogie Man" ends up being not a biography of John Lee Hooker, but rather a book about Hooker as seen through the eyes of Charles Shaar Murray. Good biographers know how to make themselves disappear from the text, to the benefit of their subjects. Murray is so present here that after a while it proves very annoying. Worst of all, many times he writes in a faux ebonics style that he thinks mimics the way black people speak. It's annoying, embarrassing, and even disturbing.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hench on January 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thank Mr Murray for writing a well researched biography and letting John Lee Hooker tell his own story. But I would offer him (or any other would-be biographers) the following suggestion: people are not interested in hearing how hip you are, they're interested in John Lee Hooker. Try to make yourself as inconspicuous as possible; don't get in the readers face with frequent references to "your correspondent"; use your own voice without inserting phrases in pseudo-Black English which only sound affected and draw attention to yourself instead of the subject matter (people writing on blues musicians often feel the need to sound hip and street-wise). Just tell the story.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John A. Gregorio VINE VOICE on October 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The blues is primal as this biography reminds us more than once. Scholar's have used more words than a presidential candidate in trying to explain the blues. This book succeeds when it directly discusses John Lee Hooker, his life and thus the blues. When it repeats Blues 101 information found in other books it fails. Many other works by Sam Charters, Pete Welding, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and others do it much better. Read works by these authors if the history and etiology of the blues is what you need. But if you want to know more about Hooker... this is the place! The author admits when the information he has conflicts with the various sources, yet lets you know where the truth may be found. An Hooker's words are worth the price alone! Read and then listen to the Man to find a answer to the question "What is the Blues?"
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Keith W. Humphrey on August 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I wouldn't recommend this book unless you are looking for a sleeping aid. The few parts that are about John Lee Hooker are good, but there is just too much bull that has little to do with the subject. Too wordy and too hard a read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Horrell on February 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a long time fan of John Lee I really looked forward to reading this book. Unfortunately the writer spent more time editoralizing about the sins of America in general and the south in particular and very little time on the actual subject of the book. The writers bias against the U.S. came across very clearly.
There are sections in the book that go on for pages without even discussing John Lee or his music. If the author had stayed off his soapbox he could have covered the same material in 100 pages instead of the 480+ pages he required. All in all I found the book very boring and a chore to read. I was glad when it was over. I love John Lee but hated the book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J.R. Stewart on August 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
With the exception of B.B. King, this was one of our last links to the true Blues greats. This book really misses out on the opportunity to expound on all the pathes crossed and the people he met along the way. This book is written very eloquently and there is no sparing of words. John Lee Hooker was a grass roots person, and this book should have been written that way. I looked forward to reading this book, but I have to admit that it was a very boring read. Hard to believe a book about John Lee Hooker being boring. I hope someone else picks up the pieces and put's another book on the streets.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Murray did a lot of research, which is commendable-he tackeled a lot-but the truth was that John was not happy with it...he said that he did not authorize it-his manager did- and that there were a bunch a lies in it-to sell the book...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Skoro on April 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of John Lee Hooker and his music. I will always remember seeing him in a live concert in San Diego. This small, slightly built man had a voice as deep as the ocean and a distinctive guitar style that was instantly recognizable. So, I eagerly picked up his biography, anticipating a great read. Although there is extensive biographical info presented here, there's too much jive to make it work. The author's style is distracting and in places it seriously derails the story. And I'm left with the overall impression that far too much of the book is filler, not solid story. And that's a shame. Hooker's story and life were compelling enough that no fluff is needed.
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