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Lonnie Brooks

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Information about Lonnie Brooks

Profile image of Lonnie Brooks

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Blues Musician

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Blue, Brown
Favorite Food:
Fish, Gumbo, Beans (Red), Rice, Sausage (Smoked)
Favorite Time of Year:
September, October
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
I love you.

Birthplace

Born:
12/18/1933
Birth Location:
Dubuisson, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Blues Musician

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Blue, Brown
Favorite Food:
Fish, Gumbo, Beans (Red), Rice, Sausage (Smoked)
Favorite Time of Year:
September, October
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
I love you.

Birthplace

Born:
12/18/1933
Birth Location:
Dubuisson
See how Lonnie Brooks is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lee Baker, Jr., also known as legendary blues singer and guitarist Lonnie Brooks, was born in Dubuisson, Louisiana on December 18, 1933 to Lillian Baker, a housewife, and Baker, Sr., a cotton field laborer. His grandfather, “Joe the Banjo,” was a circus strongman, musician and craftsman, and Brooks’ interest in music was fostered early on from him. Brooks left school after completing the eighth grade, and went to live with his father. In 1950, Brooks left Dubuisson for southern Louisiana, got married and relocated to Port Arthur, Texas.

While in Port Arthur, Brooks was approached by one of his musical heroes, Clifton Chenier, about performing with him. Brooks played everything from Zydeco and rock and roll to jazz and country, performing under the name of “Guitar Junior.” In 1959, Brooks joined up with Sam Cooke on a caravan tour of the south, and then hitched a ride to Chicago where he moved in with Cooke’s mother and brother. By the early 1960s, Brooks dropped the “Guitar Junior” name in favor of his current moniker, performed with Jimmy Reed and incorporated the sounds of Chicago in his performance. During the 1960s and 1970s, Brooks worked in a number of tough Chicago clubs, playing cover songs for underworld gangsters.

Brooks’ big break came in 1978 when he recorded four songs on Alligator Records’ Living Chicago Blues anthology. The following year, Brooks released the album Bayou Lightning, which garnered him a Grand Prix Award, causing him to explode onto the blues scene. His distinctive sound, forged from a combination of Chicago blues, R & B, country and Cajun boogie, came to be known as the “voodoo blues.” Brooks developed a loyal following when he released his Grammy nominated Bayou Lightning Strikes: Live from Chicago, and since then, there have been several successful albums.

Brooks performed at the San Francisco Blues Fest and the Montreux Jazz Festival. With television appearances on Hee-Haw and Late Night with David Letterman, Brooks teamed up with Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman in the Blues Brothers 2000. He also co-authored Blues for Dummies and headlined the 1996 Chicago Blues Fest. Brooks was also often found performing with his two guitar-playing sons, Ronnie and Wayne.

Brooks and his wife, Jeannine, lived in Chicago.

Brooks passed away on April 1, 2017.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lonnie Brooks interview: Lonnie Brooks explains his name
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Lonnie Brooks interview, continued
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks remembers his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks describes his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks remembers his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lonnie Brooks discusses Louisiana's Creole culture
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks continues to discuss race issues in Louisiana during his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks describes his childhood environs, Dubuisson, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks recalls his childhood activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks describes being the eldest of twelve children
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks recalls his school days
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks discusses his early interest in musc
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lonnie Brooks gives an overview of his early manual labor jobs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks recalls his early music career through Clifton Chenier
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks describes the beginning of his career as a lyricist
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks remembers his first recording
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on his place in country music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks discusses his musical network in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks describes a memorable performance in Europe
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks explains his appearance on television's 'Hee Haw'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks remembers singer Sam Cooke and his brother L.C. Cooke
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on his encounters with racism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks discusses Chicago's blues venues
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks shares reflections on the recording industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks describes the Louisiana lore that influenced his music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on the success of his album 'Bayou Lightning'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks names his favorite musicians
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks shares final reflections
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks recalls sharing his wealth with his parents
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on his life's course
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks expresses his hopes for his musical sons