Albert King

Albert King

Blues Rhythm And Blues Guitar Electric Blues Classic Blues
Albert King (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992) was an American blues guitarist and singer. One of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with B.B. King and Freddie King), Albert King stood 6' 4", weighed 250 lbs and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer". He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, mississippi. During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church. More Info »

Top Albums

  • King Of The Blues Guitar
    King Of The Blues Guitar
  • The Very Best Of Albert King
    The Very Best Of Albert King
  • In Session
    In Session
  • Born Under A Bad Sign
    Born Under A Bad Sign
  • I'll Play The Blues For You
    I'll Play The Blues For You
  • Live 69
    Live 69
  • The Best Of Albert King
    The Best Of Albert King
  • Blues At Sunrise
    Blues At Sunrise
  • The Big Blues
    The Big Blues
  • Door To Door
    Door To Door
  • Blues Six Pack
    Blues Six Pack
  • Thursday Night In San Francisco
    Thursday Night In San Francisco
  • Hard Bargain
    Hard Bargain
  • Albert King - The Blues Collection
    Albert King - The Blues Collection
  • I Wanna Get Funky
    I Wanna Get Funky
  • Blues Power
    Blues Power
  • Lovejoy
    Lovejoy
  • I'll Play The Blues For You [Stax Remasters]
    I'll Play The Blues For You [Stax Remasters]
  • Years Gone By
    Years Gone By
  • Stax Profiles: Albert King
    Stax Profiles: Albert King
  • Live Wire/Blues Power
    Live Wire/Blues Power
  • The Definitive Albert King
    The Definitive Albert King
  • Stax Profiles
    Stax Profiles
  • The Blues Don't Change
    The Blues Don't Change
  • New Orleans Heat
    New Orleans Heat
  • Live
    Live
  • Rainin' in California
    Rainin' in California
  • Funky London
    Funky London
  • The Lost Session
    The Lost Session
  • Wednesday Night In San Francisco
    Wednesday Night In San Francisco
  • I'm In A Phone Booth, Baby
    I'm In A Phone Booth, Baby
  • The Best of King Albert
    The Best of King Albert
  • Albert King - Stax Profiles
    Albert King - Stax Profiles
  • Talkin' Blues
    Talkin' Blues
  • Chicago 1978
    Chicago 1978
  • The Velvet Bulldozer
    The Velvet Bulldozer
  • Truckload Of Lovin'
    Truckload Of Lovin'
  • The Ultimate Collection (disc 1)
    The Ultimate Collection (disc 1)
  • King Albert
    King Albert
  • Live Wire
    Live Wire
  • Albert
    Albert
  • Blues At Sunset (Live At Wattstax And Montreux)
    Blues At Sunset (Live At Wattstax And Montreux)
  • Blues For Elvis: King Does The King's Things
    Blues For Elvis: King Does The King's Things
  • Red House
    Red House
  • The Very Best of
    The Very Best of
  • Blues for Elvis (King does The King's things)
    Blues for Elvis (King does The King's things)
  • Blues at Sunset
    Blues at Sunset
  • Live '69
    Live '69

Albert King. Artist Bio

Albert King (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992) was an American blues guitarist and singer.

One of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with B.B. King and Freddie King), Albert King stood 6' 4", weighed 250 lbs and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer". He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, mississippi. During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church. One of 13 children, King grew up picking cotton on plantations near Forrest City, Arkansas where the family moved when he was eight years old. He began his professional work as a musician with a group called In The Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas. He had also 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 hawaiian music, the electric guitar became his signature instrument, his preference being the Gibson Flying V, which he named "Lucy".

King was a left-handed "upside-down/backwards" guitarist. He was left-handed, but usually played right-handed guitars flipped over upside-down so the low E string was on the bottom. In later years he played a custom-made guitar that was basically left-handed, but had the strings reversed (as he was used to playing). He also used very unorthodox tunings (i.e., tuning as low as C to allow him to make sweeping string bends). Some believe that he was using open E minor tuning (C-B-E-G-B-E) or open F tuning (C-F-C-F-A-D). A "less is more" type blues player, he was known for his expressive "bending" of notes, a technique characteristic of blues guitarists.

He recorded his first record in 1953 for Parrot Records in chicago, but it had no impact. His first minor hit came in 1959 with Lonely Man written by Bobbin Records A&R man and fellow guitar hero Little Milton, responsible for King's signing with the label. However, it was not until his 1961 release Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong that he had a major hit, reaching number fourteen on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. In 1966 he signed with the Stax record label. Produced by Al Jackson, Jr., King with Booker T. & the MG's recorded dozens of influential sides, such as Crosscut Saw and As The Years Go Passing By, and 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 songs and has been covered by many other artists.

Another landmark album followed in 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 (Criminal World, on David Bowie's 1983 release Let's Dance, features a [tag]guitar solo copied note-for-note from his hero [artist]Albert King
by young session musician Stevie Ray Vaughan).

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 the sparse, punchy records King made with Booker T. & the MG's. Among these was another of King's signature tunes with I'll Play The Blues For You in 1972.

As he hit his mid-sixties King began to muse about retirement, not unreasonable given that he had health problems. Nevertheless, when near to death, he was planning yet another overseas tour.

King died on December 21, 1992 from a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee.


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