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Albert King – A “King of the Blues”

Albert King  “The Velvet Bulldozer”  (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992)

On April 25th in 1923, alphabetically the first of the “Three Kings” of Blues Albert King was born. Albert had a major impact on the blues and rock music. On December 11th, 2012, it was announced that King would be posthumously inducted into the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I was never a big Abert King fan in the 70s or 80s. It has only been in the last several years that I really became aware of  his impact on blues and rock music. I think that he gets lost in the shadow of B.B. King,  Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. And that is kind’a hard when you’re big as he was! From Wikipedia:

One of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with B.B. King and Freddie King), Albert King stood 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) (some reports say 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)) and weighed 250 pounds (110 kg)[2] 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 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….

Interesting Tidbits  about Albert King….

….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.

…King’s first instrument was a diddley bow. Next, he built himself a cigar box guitar, before buying a Guild acoustic. The instrument he is usually associated with is a 1958 Gibson Flying V. In 1974 he began using a Flying V built by Dan Erlewine, and after 1980 also one built by Bradley Prokopow.[4]

King was left-handed, but usually played right-handed guitars flipped over upside-down. He used a dropped minor tuning, reportedly C♯-G♯-B-E-G♯-C♯. King never used the sixth string

…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. B.B. King eulogized him by stating “Albert wasn’t my brother in blood, but he was my brother in blues.” Full Biography.

His songs like “CrossCut Saw” and “Sitting on Top of the World” have become staples for all blues artists and rock ones, too. A few years ago Corey Stevens put out a good tribute album to Albert called Albertville.

How about some Stevie Ray and Albert from the In Session album Stevie Ray’s “Pride and Joy” Play it Albert! I love that Flying V guitar!!

Featured Image: Albert King playing at the Fillmore East in October 1968 with his Gibson Flying V guitar. Photo: Grant Gouldon