The Christian Broadcasting Network

The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


John Cries Out to Jesus

By Dory Nissen
The 700 Club Find the perfect mix of rhythm & blues and jazz, add in a little down-home feel, and you’ve discovered the unique sound of John Lee Hooker Jr. He’s the son of the legendary blues musician John Lee Hooker. John Lee Jr. is a two-time Grammy nominee, and has shared the red carpet with the world’s best musicians. And he’s played alongside the likes of BB King, Lenny Kravitz, and Bo Diddley. John Lee, Jr. started playing at a young age. Even then, people predicted that he would become another Hooker legend, just like his father.

“My dad came out with a hit boom boom boom. My peers’ moms and dads knew what a hit record was. They’d say, ‘Wow, your dad got a hit record!’ That‘s what was playing!”

But John Lee Jr. had a secret. He was addicted to drugs. He started using marijuana in middle school. The drugs got progressively stronger. In his early years in high school, he started shooting heroin.

“I woke up thinking about drugs I went to sleep thinking about drugs. At lunch periods in school, after school was over, I thought about drugs. Drugs were the thing.”

John was constantly in and out of county jail on drug related crimes. During one stay, his cellmate wanted to teach John how to defend himself if he ever had to go to the penitentiary. So they started boxing.

“He would stand right at the cell door and say, ‘get out of here if you can.’  And I’d box my way out and after I boxed my way out, he’d say, ‘Good work. I’m just getting you ready.’”

And just as his cellmate predicted when John Lee Jr. turned 18, he was moved to adult prison.  

“You are a kid. And you’ve got guys in there who are 30 and 40 and ‘Who is this young boy that’s coming in here?’  And you are like ‘Oh my God. What have I gotten myself into?’”

John quickly learned about the dark side of prison life after his friend was raped by a cellmate
“And of course as a youngster you say to yourself. ‘Dang, this could happen to me as well.’”

The day that same inmate tried to rape John Lee Jr. John had to rely on every boxing lesson his former cellmate had taught him.

“I grabbed him and threw him up against the bars, and threw him and punched him, and I beat him up. I yelled at him, ‘You ain’t gonna get me like you got my friend.’”

When John Lee got out of prison, he went right back to using drugs and his music career ended. He was homeless, living on the streets and overdosed so many times, he lost count.

“I’ve had uncles and parents say ‘you are going to die from drugs, we already know. You will die from drugs.’ I believed them. I believed them. And I said, ‘I know’. But I didn’t care.”

By the time John Lee Jr. reached his 40’s, he was shooting heroin into his neck because the veins in his arms had collapsed. He developed a severe infection. And when he went to the hospital, he faced up to the possibility, he could die.

“The doctor looked at my neck and said, ‘We need to get that infection out or you will die.’  Instantly I broke out crying. And he said, ‘You could die any minute.’” 

“And lying on my hospital bed I basically said, ‘Lord Jesus, I need you to walk me through this ordeal.’  I said ‘Please help me. Have mercy on me. Help me.’ And He helped me. He helped me.’”

At that moment, John Lee prayed to become a Christian. 

But, when he recovered from the surgery he still faced more drug related charges. His mother came to the sentencing, to pray for her son.

“As I was standing there and listening to them reading off the charges.  I knew, I knew, I knew just like I know this handkerchief is white, they are going to send me to prison. I saw my mom out in the audience with her head bowed and she was praying. The judge said, ‘You are worth salvaging. I’m not going to send you to jail.’ In my heart I know that the Lord Jesus Christ heard my mamma’s prayers in my behalf.”

The judge sent John Lee to a drug rehab program which he successfully completed.

He re-launched his music career with three new albums, received two Grammy nominations, and walked the red carpet drug-free. 

And everyone who knows him will tell you that something remarkable happened in his life.
“Jesus is my good friend. He is a star that shines in the dark when I don’t know where to go. When I’m lonely I can speak with Him. He’s my hope and He is my joy. He’s caused my name that people didn’t trust; now I have a good name. Not because I’m a celebrity. But because of what He has done for me!“

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