30 unreleased tunes to be basis for 'End of the World Blues'

HOLLYWOOD — The estate of John Lee Hooker is shopping the last recordings from the legendary bluesman as the estate begins to develop plans for a memorial concert and recording, annual concert tours, educational foundation and a nightclub.

Estate manager Eugene Skuratowicz has been pitching a 30-song collection of unreleased tracks from Hooker as the basis of a two-volume set titled “End of the World Blues.” Hooker, who died two years ago at the age of 83, had seen a considerable revival of his career beginning in 1989 with the release of “The Healer.” That studio album, and the three that followed it, featured Hooker paired with rock and blues superstars, among them Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Los Lobos.

Posthumous duets

Skuratowicz’s plan is to remove backing tracks from the unreleased Hooker recordings and have the acts that worked with him in the 1990s do duets; Santana and former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green have expressed interest in participating in the project. As part of the deal, the estate is also shopping three Hooker vocal tracks, one of which is a duet with his daughter Zakiya, and 1949 recordings of Hooker singing spirituals that have never been released. Skuratowicz said he plans to make a decision on a label within 60 days.

The estate began taking an active role in promoting Hooker’s legacy in August when it staged a “family birthday charity concert” at San Francisco’s Fillmore with Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Peter Green, Canned Heat and others. Plans are under way to stage memorial shows in the U.S. and Europe next summer. Proceeds will fund the John Lee Hooker Foundation, which gives money to arts and music education programs for underprivileged children.

S.F. club

Down the road, the estate hopes to partner with a restaurant/nightclub concern to open a John Lee Hooker blues club in San Francisco. Hooker had licensed his name for the S.F. Boom Boom Room but never took an ownership stake; his name is off the bar’s marquee. The club would also include a John Lee Hooker museum.

“With the Martin Scorsese (PBS) blues series coming up, the first of which is on John Lee Hooker, it makes this time the best to execute these plans,” Skuratowicz said, noting that the Sept. 11 attacks had delayed a number of the projects.

The estate is also discussing an annual Hooker tribute concert tour that would take place each August near his birthday and hit six to eight cities.

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