Freddie King PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 08:22

Freddie King also known as Freddy King and "The Texas Cannonball"

Born: September 3, 1934, Gilmer, Texas, United States

Died:  December 28, 1976, Texas

Age: 42

Cause of death: Heart attack

Notable because: Genre defining legend of blues guitar.

Freddie King was an influential Afro-American blues guitarist and singer. He perfected his own guitar style based on Texas and Chicago influences and was one of the first artists to have a multi-racial backing band on stage with him at live performances. He is known for his recordings such as "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (1960) and his Top 40 hit "Hide Away" (1961), as well as albums such as Let's Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King (1961) and Burglar (1974).

King had a twenty year recording career and became established as an influential guitarist. He inspired American musicians including Bill Freeman, Denny Campbell and Jimmie Vaughan, and mid 1960s UK blues revivalists such as Eric Clapton, Chicken Shack and Peter Green. King died from heart failure on December 28, 1976, aged forty two.

King's mother and uncle began teaching Freddie to play guitar at the age of six. He moved with his family from Texas to the South Side of Chicago in 1950. When aged sixteen he visited local clubs where he heard blues music, performed by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, and Sonny Boy Williamson. King played with Muddy Waters's sidemen who included, Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Little Walter. He married Jessie Burnett in 1952 and worked in a steel mill, occasionally working as a sideman on recording sessions. During this period he played with bands such as The Sonny Cooper Band and Early Payton's Blues Cats and he formed his first band Every Hour Blues Boys with guitarist Jimmy Lee Robinson and drummer Sonny Scott. In 1953 he made recordings for Parrot records, which were not released and 1956 he recorded "Country Boy", a duet with Margaret Whitfield for El-Bee records[3] and Robert Lockwood Jr. played guitar on this record.

King had an intuitive style, often creating guitar parts similar to a second vocal line, using the open-string sound of Texas blues guitar and the raw, screaming tones of West Side Chicago blues. He usually played Gibson ES-355 guitars with a plastic thumb pick and a metal index-finger pick to achieve an aggressive finger attack, a style he learned from Jimmy Rogers. King had a strong influence on British and American blues-rock musicians such as Jimmy Vaughan, Peter Green, and Eric Clapton. A testament to King's presence on the circuit of touring rock bands was Grand Funk Railroad's mention of King in their song We're an American Band", written by Don Brewer and based on incidents whilst touring with King.

Syd Nathan signed Freddie King to the King Records subsidiary label Federal, in 1960 and recorded "You've Got To Love Her with Feeling" as his debut release, "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" (1960) and "Hide Away" (1961) which peaked at #29 in pop singles charts and #5 on the R&B charts. His second release was "I Love the Woman" and "Hide Away" was used as the B side. "Hideaway" was an adaptation of a tune by Hound Dog Taylor and was named after a popular bar in Chicago.

After the success of "Hide Away"  King and piano player Sonny Thompson record thirty instrumentals, including "The Stumble", "Just Pickin'", "Sen-Sa-Shun", "Side Tracked", "San-Ho-Zay", "High Rise", I'm torn down and "The Sad Nite Owl".  King's band included his brother Benny Turner on bass and Lonnie Mack played rhythm and second guitar on a number his recordings from this period. During this period he toured with the big R&B acts of the day such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and James Brown.Freddie King

King's contract with Federal expired in 1966 and his first overseas tour followed in 1967. He was noticed by King Curtis and was subsequently signed to Atlantic during 1968. In 1969 he hired Jack Calmes, to be his manager and Calmes secured him an appearance at the 1969 Texas Pop Festival, alongside Led Zeppelin and others and this led to King being signed to Leon Russell label Shelter Records. The company treated Freddie as an important artist, flying him to Chicago to the former Chess studios for the recording of Getting Ready and gave him a supporting cast of top-calibre session musicians, including rock pianist Leon Russell. Three albums were made during the this period, including blues classics and new songs written by Russell and Don Nix. RSO 1973-1976

King performed alongside the big rock acts of the day, such as Eric Clapton and for a young mainly white audience, before signing to RSO. In 1974 he recorded Burglar, on which Tom Dowd produced the track, "Sugar Sweet", at Criteria Studios in Miami with guitarists Clapton and George Terry, drummer Jamie Oldaker and bassist Carl Radle. Mike Vernon produced all the other tracks,[18] and P. P. Arnold sang vocals. Vernon also produced a second album Larger than Life with King, for the same label. Bobby Tench from The Jeff Beck Group and bassist DeLisle Harper also perform with King on both albums.

In 1975 he toured England, Australia, and New Zealand. Returning to his home in Dallas--where he had settled in 1963--he continued to play festivals and concert dates. Suffering from bleeding ulcers and heart trouble, King collapsed after a Christmas show in 1976. He died of hepatitis and other complications on December 28, 1976, in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 42.

He was buried in Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 08:31

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