This week’s featured artist is Freddie King! Born September 3rd 1934 – December 28th 1976, he was an American blues guitarist and singer. He is one of the three performers (together with B.B. King and Albert King) known as the “Kings of the Blues”, and his soulful and powerful voice and distinctive guitar style inspired many musicians, particularly guitarists. 

King had an intuitive style, often creating guitar parts with vocal nuances. He achieved this by using the open-string sound associated with Texas blues and the raw, screaming tones of West Side Chicago blues. King’s combination of the Texas and Chicago sounds gave his music a more contemporary feel than that of many Chicago bands who were still performing 1950s-style music, and he befriended the younger generation of blues musicians.

In his early career he played a solid-body gold-top Gibson Les Paul with P-90 pickups. He later played several slimline semi-hollow body Gibson electric guitars, including an ES-335, ES-345, and ES-355. He used a plastic thumb pick and a metal index-finger pick.

Nearly constant touring took its toll on King – he was on the road almost 300 days out of the year. In 1976 he began suffering from stomach ulcers. His health quickly deteriorated, and he died on December 28 of complications from this illness and acute pancreatitis, at the age of 42. According to those who knew him, King’s untimely death was due to stress, a legendary “hard-partying lifestyle”, and a poor diet. 

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. King has been cited as an influence on artists such as guitarists such as Jerry Garcia, Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Lonnie Mack. 

Check below for a live video of King performing his song Hide Away, with a tab of how to play it! 

What are your favourite works by Freddie King? What do you think of his picking style? Us at Go Guitar Lessons are grateful for his incredible contributions to music. We are currently offering Video Conference Lessons if you’d like to learn about the history of music from a professional!

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