Watch the John Lee Hooker Style: Open A online guitar lesson by Andy Aledort from Slide Guitar Power
John Lee Hooker made great use of the open A tuning in many of his earliest recordings (cut first for the Modern label back in the late forties). His very first single, "Boogie Chillen" backed with "Sallie May," is played in an open A tuning. In his autobiography, Life, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards talks about how difficult it was to figure out the chord voicings JLH used because of the open A tuning. Those unusual chord voicings are demonstrated here. JLH's playing was also highly melodic, so he often worked off the open strings to play very specific and repeated riffs and patterns. No slide is used here, but many of his licks were adapted to slide guitar by Johnny Winter and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons.