John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001) was an American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. He is known for playing in a droning one-chord blues style, while he speaks and moans over the melodies. His best known songs include "Boogie Chillen" (1948), "Crawling King Snake" (1948), "Dimples" (1956), "Boom Boom" (1962) and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" (1966).
Zappa and John Lee Hooker
As a guest DJ on radio station WSTM, Chicago, broadcast 21 November 1974, Zappa played Hooker's song "Dimples".
Zappa about John Lee Hooker
"It is a technique developed by Arnold Schoenberg but really not developed by Arnold Schoenberg and maybe developed by John Lee Hooker, because there is very little difference between the technique of "Pierrot Lunaire" and the technique of "I'm A Crawlin King Snake" or "I'm Mad With You"." - Frank Zappa, quoted in Pop Chronicles interview, interviewed by John Gilliland, 8 December 1967.
"I'm a bass-baritone and I have an octave range, all of it real shaky. I don't have perfect pitch. I have a rough time figuring out where I'm going. It's harder than shit for me to learn to sing. I can talk in pitch, Sprechstimme. I've been doing that for years – and I learned it from John Lee Hooker, not Arnold Schoenberg." - Frank Zappa, quoted in Frank Zappa: a Mother Only a Face Could Love, American Eye, interviewed by Michael Bourne, 23 October 1974.
"Not only did John Lee Hooker invent Sprechstimme, but Boozoo Chavis invented quarter-tone rock. Know what Sprechstimme is? Schoenberg wrote this famous piece with a chamber ensemble and a female soprano singing settings of these famous abstract poems. But instead of singing them, she sings, and in some parts, speaks on pitch. And the German word for this is sprechstimme, and it was revolutionary. The notation for it shows the note head on the line, with the accidental, and on the stem there's an 'x', which means you half-speak, half-sing. This was the rage of the early 20th century, but, I mean, listen to a John Lee Hooker record. People aren't aware of the great strides made in the world of modern music by these people of Negro persuasion in the early part of our century. That R&B was the best. All that white stuff is ... well, what can I say? Those white people, they mean well." - Frank Zappa, quoted in Zappa, 79/8, Musician, interviewed by Dan Forte, August 1979.