SONG OF THE DAY John Lee Hooker – Boogie Chillen’


boogieBoogie Chillen'” “the riff that launched a million songs”…..Cub Koda (Singer/guitarist/music critic)

Aside from being one hell of a driving blues track, this song is soooo relevant when it comes to the history of music! Not only has it inspired generations of artists (i’ll go into that later), it has shaped the way music evolved!!

Boogie Chillen’ or Boogie Chillun’ was a moment of pure John Lee Hooker greatness…and there were a LOT of moments from him like that!! First recorded in 1948, the song featured nothing Hooker’s nimble vocals, an electric guitar and rhythmic foot stomps! Defined by Hooker’s partly autobiographical lyrics (some of the song’s lyrics are also derived from earlier blues tracks) the song is divided between spoken and sung verses and was to be his debut record. It also became the first ‘down-home’ electric blues song to reach number one in the R&B records chart!! Crediting the striking rhythm to his stepfather, Will Moore, it was him that taught Hooker the rhythm of Boogie Chillen and John Lee Hooker’s pronunciation of ‘children’ when he was a teenager that led to the song’s title!

From the onset Hooker’s guitar work was turning heads and many of the greats attribute his work as their inspiration. A young Bo Diddley (for one) said of the song: “I think the first record I paid attention to was John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boogie Chillen,’ … When I found John Lee Hooker on the radio, I said, ‘If that guy can play, I know I can.’ I mean John Lee’s got a hell of a style”. 

Another inspired fan was Buddy Guy who, in an interview, described learning to play Boogie Chillen at age thirteen, stating how, “that was the first thing I thought I learned how to play that I knew sounded right when someone would listen.”  Guy went on to record a version of the song with Junior Wells for their 1981 album, Alone & Acoustic! Albert Collins also reported that this was the first song he learnt to play!! In fact, the song was even described as “the R&B equivalent of punk rock” because it was simply structured and so desirable to play. 

Needless to say, the song brought John Lee Hooker great success and numerous offers from record companies!! What a song!! Check it out above! 

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The Listening Post Blog - A place to discover new sounds, where the music speaks for itself..
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