Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: John Lee Hooker

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

First recorded (as “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer”) by Amos Milburn (R&B #2 1953).
Other popular versions by John Lee Hooker (1966), John Lee Hooker & the Muddy Waters Band (1967), George Thorogood & the Destroyers (1977).

From the wiki: “‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ (or ‘One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer’ as it was originally titled) was written by Rudy Toombs and first recorded by Amos Milburn in 1953 – one of several ‘drinking’ songs recorded by Milburn in the early 1950s that placed in the Top 10 of the Billboard R&B chart.

“John Lee Hooker recorded the song as ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ in 1966. Hooker transformed Milburn’s song, using the storyline and chorus but altering the order. According to historian and critic Charles Shaar Murray, Hooker ‘edited the verse down to its essentials, filled in the gaps with narrative and dialogue, and set the whole thing to a rocking cross between South Side shuffle and signature boogie.’ The song was released on Hooker’s 1966 The Real Folk Blues album. In 1967, a live performance by Hooker with Muddy Waters’ band was recorded at the Café Au Go Go in 1967 has been described by Murray as ‘dark, slow, swampy-deep, and the degree of emotional rapport between Hooker and the band (particularly Otis Spann, on piano) [is] nothing less than extraordinary.’

Boom Boom

First recorded by John Lee Hooker (US #60/R&B #16 1962 |UK #16 1992).
Other hit versions by The Animals (US #43/CAN #14 1964), Big Head Todd & The Monsters (US #29 1998).
Also recorded by Mae West (1966).

From the wiki: “‘Boom Boom’ was written by American Blues singer/guitarist John Lee Hooker and first recorded in 1961. Although a Blues song, it has been described as ‘the greatest Pop song he ever wrote.’ ‘Boom Boom’, as recorded by Hooker, was both an American R&B and Pop chart success in 1962 as well as placing in the UK Singles Chart in 1992. It is one of Hooker’s most identifiable and enduring songs, and ‘among the tunes that every band on the [early 1960s UK] R&B circuit simply had to play’ (wrote Cub Koda in the liner notes for The Yardbirds compilation, Ultimate!). Hooker later re-recorded and re-released the song in 1968 on the Stateside record label as the B-side of ‘Cry Before I Go’ under the longer title ‘Boom Boom Boom’. According to Hooker, he wrote the song during an extended engagement at the Apex Bar in Detroit:

‘I would never be on time [for the gig]; I always would be late comin’ in. And she [the bartender Willa] kept saying, ‘Boom boom — you late again’. Every night: ‘Boom, boom — you late again’. I said ‘Hmm, that’s a song!’… I got it together, the lyrics, rehearsed it, and I played it at the place, and the people went wild.’

Gloria (Them)

Written by Van Morrison and first recorded by Them (1964).
Hit versions by Them (US #93/UK #10 1965), The Shadows of Knight (US #10 1966), Van Morrison & John Lee Hooker (UK #31 1993).

From the wiki: “Van Morrison said that he wrote ‘Gloria’ while he performed with the Monarchs in Germany in the summer of 1963. He started to perform it at the Maritime Hotel when he returned to Belfast and joined up with The Gamblers to form the band Them. He would ad-lib lyrics as he performed, sometimes stretching the song to fifteen or twenty minutes. After signing a contract with Dick Rowe and Decca, Them went to London for a recording session at Decca Three Studios in West Hampstead on 5 July 1964.

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