John Lee Hooker (Wikimedia Commons / Jean-Luc Ourlin)
Bluesman John Lee Hooker was best known for an iconic song that perfectly embodied his trademark "talking blues" style.
"Boom Boom" was one of only two John Lee Hooker songs to hit the Billboard Hot 100, and it peaked at only No. 60… but in the 50 years since its release, the song's fame has grown into the stuff of blues legend – thanks to Hooker's own ultra-cool version and a host of covers over the years. On what would have been John Lee Hooker's 95th birthday, we're listening to a few of our favorite takes on his greatest song.
Just three years after Hooker released "Boom Boom," it got swept up in the British Invasion when London rockers the Animals took it on. Their version reached an audience that might never have heard Mississippi-born bluesmen like Hooker, and it helped cement the song's place as a blues-rock classic.
Bruce Springsteen added "Boom Boom" to his concert lineup in 1998, and the hot sax solo by Clarence Clemons helps the E Street Band's version sizzle.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters recorded the song for their 1997 Beautiful World album – with a special appearance by the blues legend himself. When the band was making the album, Hooker was also recording in the same studio. He stopped by to sing along, spawning a No. 29 single.
In 2009 the song took on a country flavor when the Oak Ridge Boys recorded their version.
We love them all, but for us, choosing the best version is a no-brainer. Whether he's on stage, in the studio, or playing in one of our favorite movies (The Blues Brothers, of course), John Lee Hooker owns "Boom Boom."
Written by Linnea Crowther