Albert King | Everything you need to know about Blues Music
Albert King (1923-1992) was a renowned blues guitarist and singer, who was widely recognized as the “King of the Blues Guitar” due to his powerful string-bending style and soulful, smoky vocals. Although King often claimed to have been born in Indianola, and to be the half-brother of B.B. King, there is little official documentation to support these claims. Nevertheless, King’s music and style earned him a lasting legacy as one of the most important artists in the history of the blues.
King was born on April 25, 1923 (or 1924) in Mississippi, but the exact location of his birth remains a matter of debate. He was raised by his mother, Mary Blevins, and two sisters after his father left the family when he was just five years old. King began playing guitar as a left-handed player, learning on his own by turning the guitar upside down. He later formed his first band, the In the Groove Boys, based in Osceola, Arkansas.
King’s career took off in the 1950s when he recorded his debut single for Parrot Records in Chicago. He then moved to Lovejoy, Illinois, before returning to Osceola. Recordings in St. Louis helped to further draw attention to his talent, and a stint with Stax Records in Memphis from 1966 to 1974 established him as a major name in blues. King’s music drew in new audiences from the rock scene, and musicians such as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan cited him as a major influence.
Some of King’s most notable records include Live Wire/Blues Power, an album recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and Stax singles “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Cross Cut Saw,” “The Hunter,” and “I’ll Play the Blues for You.” Despite his success and influence, King never achieved the same level of commercial success as some of his followers, but he remained a major name in blues until his death.
King passed away on December 21, 1992, in Memphis, Tennessee, after suffering a heart attack. In 1983, he was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the genre. Despite the confusion surrounding his identity, Albert King’s impact on the world of blues and rock music is undeniable, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence musicians around the world.