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BMG acquires John Lee Hooker catalogue, boom boom in publishing sales continues

The late, great John Lee Hooker
(Image credit: Al Pereira / Getty)

BMG has acquired the rights to John Lee Hooker’s publishing catalog in an expansive deal between the firm, its partner Fujipacific Music and the bluesman’s estate.

The deal is not quite all-encompassing. Instead, the two firms have taken on shared ownership of the full publishing catalog, while BMG has acquired the entire recorded and performance royalty income, plus Hooker’s recorded catalog from 1980 album Alone, Vol. 1 to 2020’s Black Night Is Falling

The remainder of Hooker’s recorded catalog will stay in the hands of various third parties. Even BMG has described this in a statement as “a complex musical legacy”, but says the deal will now enable it to “take a lead role in promoting Hooker’s outstanding catalog.”

BMG has been building up a huge catalog in recent years, purchasing rights and other interests in a number of blues and rock greats, including ZZ Top, Mötley Crüe, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Muddy Waters and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

BMG’s President, Repertoire & Marketing, New York and Los Angeles Thomas Scherer said: “BMG is proud to be the definitive home of John Lee Hooker’s music, one of the key inspirations and foundation stones of popular music. BMG will ensure John Lee Hooker’s legacy is honored and respected wherever and whenever John Lee Hooker’s music is used, performed, recorded or sold.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Jampol, CEO of Jam, Inc., which manages the Hooker estate, said: “We are very pleased that an artist-first company like BMG will be the stewards of this great legacy moving forward, and we are grateful to remain in a consulting and management role of the John Lee Hooker legacy, in partnership with BMG, moving forward.

“This is a rare triple-win for everyone: the Hooker family, BMG, and for the millions of John Lee Hooker fans all across the world.”

Publishing deals are all the rage right now, with many legacy artists electing to sell their catalogs in the past year or so, including a recent deal for Alice in Chains.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.