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Albert King (1923-1992)

Albert King

The Left-Handed King of the Blues

Born in Indianola, MS, April 25, 1923 but raised in Forrest City, AR, Albert King (born Albert Nelson) taught himself how to play guitar when he was a child, building his own instrument out of a cigar box. Bluesman Albert King was one of the premier electric guitar stylists of the post-World War II period. By playing left-handed and holding his guitar upside-down (with the strings set for a right-handed player). At first, Albert King played with gospel groups - most notably the Harmony Kings - but after hearing Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and several other blues musicians, Albert King solely played the blues. He was strongly influenced by Elmore James, B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and Howlin' Wolf. In 1950, he met MC Reeder, who owned the T-99 nightclub in Osceola, AR. Albert King moved to Osceola shortly afterward, joining the T-99's house band, the In the Groove Boys. The band played several local Arkansas gigs besides the T-99, including several shows for a local radio station. At this time, he adopted the name Albert King, which he assumed after B.B. King's "Three O'Clock Blues" became a huge hit. In 1956, Albert King moved to St. Louis, where he initially sat in with local bands. By the fall of 1956, Albert King was headlining several clubs in the area. Albert King continued to play the St. Louis circuit, honing his style. During these years, Albert King began playing his signature Gibson Flying V, which he named Lucy. By 1958, Albert King was quite popular in St. Louis, which led to a contract with the Bobbin Records in the summer of 1959. Albert King left Bobbin in late 1962 and recorded one session for King Records in the spring of 1963, which were much more pop-oriented than his previous work. Albert King signed with Stax Records in 1966. Albert King's records for Stax would bring him stardom, both within blues and rock circles. All of his '60s Stax sides were recorded with the label's house band, Booker T. & the MG's, which gave his blues a sleek, soulful sound. That soul underpinning gave Albert King crossover appeal, as evidenced by his R&B chart hits - Laundromat Blues (1966) and Cross Cut Saw (1967) both went Top 40, while Born Under a Bad Sign (1967) charted in the Top 50. Early in 1969, Albert King recorded Years Gone By, his first true studio album. Albert King performed a concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and for the next few years, Albert King toured America and Europe, returning to the studio in 1971, to record the Lovejoy album. By the mid-'70s Albert King signed by Utopia, Tomato Records and Fantasy in 1983. Albert King continued to regularly play concerts and festivals throughout America and Europe for the rest of the decade. Albert King was truly a "King of the Blues". Along with B.B. King and Freddie King, Albert King is one of the major influences on blues and rock guitar players. Without him, modern guitar music would not sound as it does - Albert King's style has influenced both black and white blues players from Otis Rush and Robert Cray to Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Albert King continued to perform until his sudden death in 1992, when Albert King suffered a fatal heart attack on December 21.

Visit also these related Sites:

Albert King Tribute Pages

Biographical Information on Albert King

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Albert King Guitar Tabs

Reviews and Critiques of Albert King Live Performances and Recordings

Albert King Lyrics

Albert King Discographies

Albert King Photos

Albert King Audio Files

Albert King Videos

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