Crawling King Snake

Album: The Best Of John Lee Hooker (1949)
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  • Like many blues songs, this one is about sex, with the "king snake" a fairly obvious metaphor. Long before rockers and rappers did it, blues musicians like Hooker often bragged about their sexual prowess.
  • Variations of this song had been around for a while before Hooker got to it, and in 1941 the bluesman Big Joe Williams became the first to record it. A few months later, Tony Hollins recorded it. Hollins was dating Hooker's sister Alice, and taught John Lee the song. He included it in his live sets, and in 1949 he recorded the song with his producer, Bernard Besman.

    Besman and Hooker are listed as the official writers on the song, since their version was the first one copyrighted. Many of Hooker's early songs list Besman as a co-writer, and Hooker assigned his rights to many of them to Besman, who copyrighted them.
  • The Doors played this at many of their early concerts and covered it on their 1971 album LA Woman. They thought it fit well on the album, which turned out to be their last with Jim Morrison, since they were trying to return to their early sound.

    The blues were a big influence on The Doors, especially Jim Morrison, who loved to sing old blues numbers when he got drunk. The only blues songs they recorded, however, were this one and "Back Door Man," which was on their first album.
  • In Jim Morrison's biography No One Here Gets Out Alive it was said that Morrison sang this in a Paris bar just weeks before his death. It could have very possibly been the last performance from by the "Lizard King."
  • In 2002, Hooker's daughter Zakiya performed this with Peter Green at a show in San Francisco. Green, a popular Blues guitarist and founding member of Fleetwood Mac, also recorded this for From Clarksdale to Heaven: Remembering John Lee Hooker, a tribute album honoring the singer, who died the previous year.
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Comments: 3

  • Robert from Santa Barbara, CaThe story I heard was that Tony Hollins dated John Lee's sister, and that John Lee patterned his guitar style after Tony Hollins.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThe version of this is on LA Woman. Somebody forgot to mension that in the songfacts.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scthe title is enough to tell you what the song is about.
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