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Earl Hooker (January 15, 1929 April 21, 1970) was an American blues guitarist. Hooker was a Chicago slide guitarist in the same league as Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, and his mentor, Robert Nighthawk. Some Chicago Blues guitarists even consider Hooker to have been the greatest slide player ever.

Earl HookerCareer
Born Earl Zebedee Hooker in Clarksdale, Mississippi, from a music-inclined family (he was a cousin of John Lee Hooker), taught himself to play guitar around the age of 10 and shortly thereafter his family migrated to Chicago where he began attending the Lyon & Healy Music School in 1941. From the knowledge he gained there Hooker eventually became proficient on the drums and piano as well as on such stringed instruments as the banjo and mandolin. While a teen, Hooker performed on Chicago street corners, occasionally with Bo Diddley. He also developed a friendship with slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk, which led to Hooker's interest in slide guitar and some performances with Nighthawk's group outside of Chicago. In 1949, Hooker moved to Memphis, joined Ike Turner's band, and toured the South. Being in Memphis led to some performances with harmonica ace Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) on his KFFA radio program, " Time," and to Hooker's first recording dates. By the mid-'50s Hooker was back in Chicago and fronting his own band. He became a steady figure on the Chicago Blues scene, and regularly traveled to cities such as Gary and Indianapolis, Indiana, playing blues clubs.

Hooker made his first recordings, mainly 78 rpm and 45 rpm records, in 1952 and 1953 for small labels Rockin', King, and Sun. Performed at the 1965 European tour with Joe Hinton (which included an appearance on the English pop music television show "Ready Steady Go"), and a return trip overseas with the American Folk Blues Festival package in 1969, England. Hooker spent most of the '60s playing in Chicago clubs with his band and often with harp player Junior Wells. In 1969 he recorded an album, Hooker 'n Steve, with organist and pianist Steve Miller [not to be confused with famous guitarist and band leader Steve Miller] for Arhoolie Records. Hooker played slide guitar on the 1962 Muddy Waters recording "You Shook Me" (Muddy Waters' vocal dubbed on Hooker instrumental track "Blue Guitar", previously released on the Age label, through that being the only slide player on a Muddy Waters recording besides Muddy himself). Hooker also helped popularize the double-neck guitar. The 1970 album Sweet Black Angel, co-producer Ike Turner contain songs "I Feel Good", "Drivin' Wheel", "Country and Western", "Boogie", Don't Blot! "Shuffle", "Catfish Blues", "Crosscut Saw", "Sweet Home Chicago", "Mood", and "Funky Blues".

Earl Hooker died at the age of 41 in Chicago, Illinois, after a lifelong struggle against tuberculosis, which is alluded to in the title of a 1972 compilation album of his work, There's a Fungus Among Us and "Two Bugs and a Roach." He is interred in the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. His story was told in a 2001 book by author Sebastian Danchin titled Earl Hooker, Blues Master.

Although Earl Hooker died in 1970 his music still continues on in the rock band Daphne Blue, which includes Freddie Roulette, the original Lap Steel guitar player from Hooker's band, and his songwriting partner, Ray Bronner. Although he never received the public recognition to the same extent as some of his contemporaries, Jimi Hendrix proclaimed Earl Hooker as the "master of the wah-wah" and his talent was greatly respected by other notable musicians such as B.B. King, Ike Turner, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Magic Sam.