Blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite said that when you listened to John Lee Hooker's music you were hearing his heart. Musselwhite joined fellow blues musicians Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy yester

Blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite said that when you listened to John Lee Hooker's music you were hearing his heart. Musselwhite joined fellow blues musicians Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy yesterday (June 28) to remember Hooker, who died at his Los Altos home last week. Hundreds of family, friends and fans filled the Oakland Inter-Stake Auditorium to pray, sing and celebrate Hooker's life.

"You could get past the music and get to know John because he was so open," Musselwhite said. "He stuck to the blues, his own personal blues ... when you listen to John, you are listening to his heart ... Through his music John will live forever."

Raitt called Hooker "the one that dug the trench for me." She said she first heard him sing when she was 14. "I never heard anything coming out of any man that was as scary, as evocative," she said. "I knew there was something very deep going on." Raitt fought back tears, calling their friendship of three decades "a treasure."

Shana Morrison read a letter of condolence from her father, musician Van Morrison.

Hooker's simple wooden casket was draped with purple flowers and surrounded by bouquets and several photographs of the legend. At either side of the coffin stood a white chair and a red guitar made entirely of flowers. The bluesman from the Mississippi Delta, often considered the cradle of blues music, estimated he recorded more than 100 albums. Some of his better-known songs include "Boogie Chillun," "Boom Boom" and "I'm In The Mood."

Hooker is survived by his third wife, eight children, 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. His eldest child, Francis McBee, spoke frankly about her feelings of abandonment. She said she finally traveled to one of her father's performances in Chicago to make amends and ask his forgiveness.

"I grew up and realized you could not be the man you were today without making sacrifices, even your family," she said.

McBee, wearing a bright red dress and a white hat, spoke proudly about being the one of Hooker's children who most resembled him. She said he had been prepared to die. "Instead of dying during the day, you die during the night so you could make a clean getaway," she said. "Instead of stepping out the front door, you stepped out the back door and went quietly into history."


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