I first heard of John Lee Hooker Jr. in 2008 when he was nominated for a Grammy Award and I was musical directing the Grammy Awards Pre-Telecast ceremony. Although I was familiar with his father, blues icon John Lee Hooker, I was unaware that there was a son who was a recording artist and performer as well. Shortly afterwards, I was invited by Michael Rogers, my childhood friend and drummer for John’s band, to hear them play in Santa Monica, CA.
I remember arriving to the jam-packed sold-out venue, not knowing what to expect. The show opened with a number featuring the band. The music was both funky and bluesy, but did not sound anything like the typical blues band. The band had musical breaks, arrangements, and dynamics, which made the experience more exciting than most. Next up was John Lee Hooker Jr. He looked sharp and confident as he commanded the stage with his stern presence and delivery of well-crafted songs. One after another, each song told stories of real life situations. I knew they were his truths because the content was just too real to be made up. I recognized right away that John Lee Jr. had his own voice, style, and approach to songs. He was a completely different artist than what one would expect of someone baring the name John Lee Hooker. His performance took him completely out of the shadow of his father’s name and legacy. Needless to say, I was impressed beyond expectations.
Two years went by before we actually sat down and talked about working together. Coincidentally, John’s band rehearsed only a few blocks from my office, which made it even more convenient for us to connect. From the first day of songwriting together, I knew things were going to work out just fine. I admired his talent for storytelling and delivery, and he was open to my musical, melodic, and lyric input as well. We also shared the same taste in musical styles and arrangements, and we hit it off personally wise. I call this a win/win in my book.
It was a great experience and a thrill to produce John’s most recent blues recording a few years ago entitled “All Hooked Up”, and I am even more honored to be co-writing with him and producing the new gospel project. I am inspired by John’s conviction, humility, and obedience to adhere to his calling to become an ordained minister and proud to now call him Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr. I fill privileged to have known him through his personal transition from John to Reverend John and witness a new spirit and light in his eyes that shines with brightness and new found joy as he ministers through music. He delivers music with his same drive, passion, and energy, adding a message of hope, peace, joy, love, and forgiveness, using scripture to tell his story. I am excited about the new songs and arrangements we've recorded so far, and I continue to be inspired by Reverend John's creativity as we travel this new road together. I am looking forward to the journey!!!