Albert King And Freddie King
Albert King And Freddie King
He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi. Although unrelated, Albert occasionally referred to himself as "B.B. King's half brother". During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church where his father played the guitar.
One of 13 children, King grew up picking cotton on plantations near Forrest City, Arkansas, where the family moved when he was eight. He began his professional work as a musician with a group called In The Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas. Moving north to Gary, Indiana and later St. Louis, Missouri, he briefly played drums for Jimmy Reed's band and on several early Reed recordings. Influenced by blues musicians Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson, but also, interestingly enough, Hawaiian music, the electric guitar became his signature instrument, his preference being the Gibson Flying V which he named "Lucy".
King earned his nickname "The Velvet Bulldozer" during this period as he drove one of them and also worked as a mechanic to make a living. King moved to Gary, Indiana in the early 1950s, then to Chicago in 1953 where he cut his first single for Parrot Records, but it was only a minor regional success. He then went back to St. Louis in 1956 and formed a new band. During this period, he settled on using the Flying V as his primary guitar.
He resumed recording in 1959 with his first minor hit, "I'm a Lonely Man," written by Little Milton, who was Bobbin Records A&R man, a fellow guitar hero, and responsible for King's signing with the label. It was not until his 1961 release "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" that King had a major hit, reaching number fourteen on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. The song was included on his first album The Big Blues, released in 1962. He next signed with jazz artist Leo Gooden's Coun-Tree label.
King's reputation continued to grow in the Midwest, but a jealous Gooden dropped him from the label. In 1966, King moved to Memphis, where he signed with the Stax record label. Produced by Al Jackson, Jr., King with Booker T. & the MGs recorded dozens of influential sides, such as "Crosscut Saw" and "As The Years Go Passing By". In 1967 Stax released the album, Born Under a Bad Sign. The title track of that album (written by Booker T. Jones and William Bell) became King's best-known song and has been covered by many artists (from Cream to Homer Simpson).
The success of the album made King nationally known for the first time and began to influence white musicians. Another landmark album followed with Live Wire/Blues Power, from one of many dates King played at promoter Bill Graham's Fillmore venues. It had a wide and long-term influence on Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson, and later Gary Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1969, King performed live with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. During the early 1970s, he recorded an album Lovejoy with a group of white rock singers, an Elvis Presley tribute album, Albert King Does The King's Things, and a cameo on an Albert Brooks comedy album A Star is Bought. According to Bill Graham, "Albert was one of the artists I used many times for various reasons.
He wasn't just a good guitar player; he had a wonderful stage presence, he was very congenial and warm, he was relaxed on stage, and he related to the public. Also he never became a shuck-and-jiver. One of the things that happened in the '60s – it's not a very nice thing to say, but it happens to be true – was that blues musicians began to realize that white America would accept anything they did on stage. And so many of them became jive.
But Albert remained a guy who just went on stage and said 'Let's play.' On June 6, 1970, King joined The Doors on stage at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada. He lent his distinctive guitar to blues cuts such as “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” “Rock Me” and “Who Do You Love.” In the 1970s, King was teamed with members of The Bar-Kays and The Movement (Isaac Hayes's backing group), including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall adding strong funk elements to his music. Adding strings and multiple rhythm guitarists, producers Allen Jones and Henry Bush created a wall of sound that contrasted with the sparse, punchy records King made with Booker T. & the MGs.
Among these was another of King's signature tunes "I'll Play the Blues For You" in 1972. King influenced others such as Mick Taylor, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Mike Bloomfield and Joe Walsh (the James Gang guitarist spoke at King's funeral). He also had an impact on contemporaries Albert Collins and Otis Rush. Clapton has said that his work on the 1967 Cream hit "Strange Brew" and throughout the album Disraeli Gears was inspired by King. By the late 1980s, King began to muse about retirement, as he had health problems. He continued regular tours and appearances at blues festivals, using a customized Greyhound tour bus with "I'll Play The Blues For You" painted on the side.
Shortly before his death, he was planning yet another overseas tour. His final album, Red House, was recorded in 1992 and named for the Jimi Hendrix song that he covered on it. The album was largely ignored because of bad production quality and original copies of it are scarce. King died on December 21, 1992 from a heart attack in his Memphis, Tennessee home. His final concert had been in Los Angeles two days earlier. He was given a funeral procession with the Memphis Horns playing "When The Saints Go Marching In" and buried in Edmondson, Arkansas near his childhood home. Freddie King (September 3, 1934 – December 28, 1976), thought to have been born as Frederick Christian, originally recording as Freddy King, and nicknamed "the Texas Cannonball", was an influential American blues guitarist and singer.
He is often mentioned as one of "the Three Kings" of electric blues guitar, along with Albert King and B.B. King, as well as the youngest of the three. Freddie King based his guitar style on Texas and Chicago influences and was one of the first bluesmen to have a multi-racial backing band onstage with him at live performances. He is best known for singles such as "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (1960) and his Top 40 hit "Hide Away" (1961). He is also known for albums such as the early, instrumental-packed Let's Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King (1961) and the later album Burglar (1974), which displayed King's mature versatility as both player and singer in a range of blues and funk styles. King had a twenty-year recording career and became established as an influential guitarist with hits for Federal Records, in the early 1960s.
He inspired American musicians such as Jerry Garcia, Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmie Vaughan and others. His influence was also felt in UK, through recordings by blues revivalists such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Chicken Shack. Early life and name variations When King was only six, his mother Ella Mae and his uncle began teaching Freddie guitar. In autumn 1949 King and his family moved from Dallas to the South Side of Chicago. In 1952 King started working in a steel mill, the same year he married fellow Texas native Jessie Burnett, with whom he eventually had six children. There are significant variations and unresolved confusion over King's use of the surname King.
According to his estate, he was named "Freddy King" at birth and his parents were Ella Mae King and J.T.Christian. According to his sister, King had the surname Christian, even after their mother re-married and the family moved to Chicago and that by the mid 1950s he "Freddy Christian", was so musically ambitious that he changed his surname to King, to ride on the coat tails of B.B. King. It is notable that his first name is spelled "Freddy" on his recordings made between 1956 and 1964.
From 1968 his name was credited as Freddie King. Recording career 1950s Almost as soon as he had moved to Chicago, King started sneaking into South Side nightclubs, where he heard blues performed by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, and Sonny Boy Williamson. King formed his first band, the Every Hour Blues Boys, with guitarist Jimmie Lee Robinson and drummer Frank "Sonny" Scott. In 1952, while employed at the steel mill, an eighteen-year-old King occasionally worked as a sideman with such bands as the Little Sonny Cooper Band and Earl Payton's Blues Cats. In 1953 he recorded with the latter for Parrot Records, but these recordings were never released.
As the 1950s went on, King played with several of Muddy Waters's sidemen and other Chicago mainstays, including guitarists Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Eddie Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, bassist Willie Dixon, pianist Memphis Slim, and harpist Little Walter. In 1956 he cut his first record as a leader, for El-Bee Records. The A-side was a duet with a Margaret Whitfield, "Country Boy,", and the B-side was a King vocal. Both tracks feature the guitar of Robert Lockwood, Jr., who during these same years was also adding rhythm backing and fills to Little Walter's records. King was repeatedly rejected in auditions for the South Side's Chess Records, the premier blues label, which was home to Muddy, Wolf, and Walter. The complaint was that Freddie King sang too much like B.B.
King. A newer blues scene, lively with nightclubs and upstart record companies, was burgeoning on the West Side, though. Bassist and producer Willie Dixon, during a late 1950s period of estrangement from Chess, had King come to Cobra Records for a session, but the results have never been heard. Meanwhile, though, King established himself as perhaps the biggest musical force on the West Side.
King played along with Magic Sam and supposedly did uncredited backing guitar on some of Sam's tracks for Mel London's Chief and Age labels, though King does not stand out anywhere. Federal Records In 1959 King got to know Sonny Thompson, pianist, producer, and A&R man for Cincinnati's King Records and King owner Syd Nathan signed King to the subsidiary Federal label in 1960. King recorded his debut single for the label on August 26, 1960: "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" backed with "You've Got to Love Her with a Feeling" (again as "Freddy" King). From the same recording session at the King Studios in Cincinnati, Ohio, King cut the instrumental "Hide Away," which the next year reached #5 on the R&B Charts and #29 on the Pop Singles Charts, an unprecedented accomplishment for a blues instrumental. "Hide Away" was originally released as the B-side of "I Love the Woman".
"Hide Away" was King's conglomeration of a theme by Hound Dog Taylor and parts by others, such as from "The Walk" by Jimmy McCracklin and "Peter Gunn", as credited by King. The song's title comes from Mel's Hide Away Lounge, a popular blues club on the West Side of Chicago. Willie Dixon later claimed that he had recorded King doing "Hide Away" for Cobra Records in the late 1950s, but such a version has never surfaced. "Hide Away" has since become a blues standard, and a pons asinorum for young blues players, who are often told "sure you can sit in, here's an easy one, 12 bar in E". After their success with "Hide Away," King and Sonny Thompson recorded thirty instrumentals, including "The Stumble," "Just Pickin'," "Sen-Sa-Shun," "Side Tracked," "San-Ho-Zay," "High Rise," and "The Sad Nite Owl".
Vocal tracks continued to be recorded throughout this period, but often the instrumentals were marketed on their own merits as albums. During the Federal period King toured with many of the R&B acts of the day such as, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and James Brown, who performed in the same concerts. Cotillion, Shelter, RSO Records King's contract with Federal expired in 1966, and his first overseas tour followed in 1968. King's availability was noticed by producer and saxophonist King Curtis, who had recorded a cover of "Hide Away," with Cornell Dupree on guitar in 1962. Curtis signed King to Atlantic in 1968, which resulted in two LPs, Freddie King Is a Blues Master (1969) and My Feeling for the Blues (1970), produced by Curtis for the Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion Records. In 1969 King hired Jack Calmes as his manager, who secured him an appearance at the 1969 Texas Pop Festival, alongside Led Zeppelin and others, and this led to King's being signed to Leon Russell's new label, Shelter Records.
The company treated King as an important artist, flying him to Chicago to the former Chess studios for the recording of Getting Ready and gave him a backing line-up of top session musicians, including rock pianist Leon Russell. Three albums were made during this period, including blues classics and new songs written by Russell and Don Nix. King performed alongside the big rock acts of the day, such as Eric Clapton and for a young, mainly white audience, along with Caucasian tour drummer Gary Carnes for three years, before signing to RSO. In 1974 he recorded Burglar, for which Tom Dowd produced the track "Sugar Sweet" at Criteria Studios in Miami, with guitarists Clapton and slide guitarist George Terry, drummer Jamie Oldaker and bassist Carl Radle. Mike Vernon produced all the other tracks.
Vernon also produced a second album Larger than Life with King, for the same label. Vernon brought in other notable musicians for both albums such as Bobby Tench of The Jeff Beck Group, to complement King. Playing style and technique King had an intuitive style, often creating guitar parts with vocal nuances. He achieved this by using the open string sound associated with Texas blues and the raw, screaming tones of West Side Chicago blues. In his early career he played a gold top Gibson Les Paul with P-90 pickups through a Gibson GA-40 amplifier, later moving on to Gibson ES-345 guitars, using a plastic thumb pick and a metal index-finger pick to achieve an aggressive finger attack, a style he learned from Jimmy Rogers.
He had a relatively more aggressive and creative style of improvisation than others such as, B.B King and Albert King, considered by many to be a more exploratory and less traditional approach. King's later years (after 1970) were marked by a shift towards more of a hard, rock-like style, presumably in an effort to reach white audiences better. He also largely quit performing new material in lieu of simply covering songs from B.B. King and other blues musicians. Death Near-constant touring took its toll on King (he was on the road almost 300 days out of the year), and in 1976 he began suffering stomach ulcers. His health quickly deteriorated and he died on December 28 of complications from that and acute pancreatitis at the age of 42. According to those that knew him, King's untimely death was due to both stress and poor diet (he was in the habit of consuming Bloody Marys in lieu of solid food so as not to waste time when setting up shows). Read more on Last.fm.
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