By the time he was in his mid 20's, he was back in Crystal Springs as a home base, but traveled all over the south, usually with Papa Charlie McCoy, with whom he recorded his first sessions in Memphis in 1928. Those sessions included this song, "Canned Heat Blues," a harrowing account of Johnson's complete addiction to alcohol and the lengths he would go to get it (in this case, drinking methanol from the cooking fuel Sterno, also called "Canned Heat"). The blues rockers Canned Heat took their name from this song much later.
Tommy Johnson ranks with Patton and Son House as major influences in the development of Robert Johnson. Johnson also crafted the "Devil at the Crossroads" story years before it was used in the Robert Johnson legend. Vocally, Tommy Johnson possessed an amazing range, able to move from an eerie falsetto to a feral growl. His guitar playing was very advanced and intricate compared to other blues guitarist of the era. Sadly, his last recordings were in 1930 and he descended deep into alcoholism and remained mostly in the Jackson area, playing at jukes and local parties until he died in 1956.
Soledad Prison in the late 60's. Unfortunately, he fell into the world of drug addiction for nearly 25 years before cleaning up and resuming his career. While the younger Hooker can duplicate his father's relentless boogie sound somewhat, his own music also incorporates urban blues, jazz, and R&B. He has released several CDs, his 2004 debut actually netted him a Grammy Award. His latest disc is All Hooked Up and is his best so far. If you haven't experience the younger John Lee Hooker, you're missing out. He's a gifted singer and one of the better composers of new blues material out there. All of his recordings are worth a listen. Check out this tune from a couple of years ago.