E A E G E

I was offline most of the day, so I wasn’t able to tweet an answer to Merlin’s question on Twitter:

OK. Help me out. Who’s best known for that blues riff?

“E-A-E-G-A”

John Lee Hooker? Muddy Waters? Earlier?

(do NOT say George Thorogood)

1:48 PM Thu Dec 29, 2011

Oops. Sorry. Meant:

“E-A-E-G-E”

Feels very John Lee Hooker.

Anything earlier?

1:54 PM Thu Dec 29, 2011

It’s probably better that I was away from Twitter at the time. My answer wouldn’t fit in 140 characters.

First, although John Lee Hooker may have used that riff, it isn’t the John Lee Hooker riff. The John Lee Hooker riff is this one:

It’s the sound ZZ Top used in “LaGrange.”

Some might argue this is the John Lee Hooker riff:

I’m sure these people are sincere in their beliefs, but they’re wrong.

As for EAEGA:

“Hoochie Coochie Man” was written by Willie Dixon,1 Chess Records’ jack-of-all-trades, and he played bass on the original version. But even though he wrote the song, Dixon always credited Muddy and the band for its EAEGE stop time opening. And if you’re not going to accept Willie Dixon as an authority, I don’t know what to do with you.

Here’s a more sedate version of “Hoochie Coochie Man” from the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, captured on film and on Muddy’s At Newport album. By this time, Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers were gone, but Muddy’s voice was still amazing.

My favorite track from the Newport session, possibly my favorite Muddy track ever, is anything but sedate.

That’s the great Otis Spann on piano. “He had that bad left hand,” Muddy once said. “Both hands bad.”


  1. He also wrote “Whole Lotta Love,” but it took some legal wrangling to get Page and Plant to admit it. 


2 Responses to “E A E G E”

  1. Clark says:

    Page and Plant lifted so many riffs and bits of old blues songs. Especially Robert Johnson although I vaguely remember hearing some bits that sounded a lot like Ledbelly too. Love me some old blues.

    Can’t believe people said Hooker rather than Waters. That’s a pretty well known Waters riff.

    Dixon is fantastic. Of course he wrote Water’s “Just Want to Make Love to You” too - which is a classic of Waters and covered by nearly everyone. I could have sworn I had a Hooker cover of it but it’s not in iTunes - although there are versions by Clapton and a cool version by Etta James.

  2. Skib says:

    Thats it. My favorite blog post of 2011. Thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks.