Without a doubt, one of the greatest bluesman to grace the planet, Albert King was left handed playing his guitar upside down. His simple and honest approach to expressing himself permeated every note he played. He was the 'blue note' in his music. He was the master off sqeezing every emotion out a single note often embrassing the quest so earnestly as his notes became becons of torture!
At an early age, he sang in a church choir. He spent some time drumming eventually graduating into a solo artist. A great part of his life was spent doing construction and he was known for driving his own gig bus. The good old fashion country blues is what Albert defined in so many of the stories he expressed about a black man living through the Great Depression, World War 2, the civil rights movement; from the early earlay blues to modern rock. Many of Albert's songs dealt with everyday domestic issues like paying the rent, fidelity, the temptation of love and the iron twists to personal realationships.
His legendary performances and recordings speak for themselves. His legacy is still yet to be fully recognized. (Live at the Fillmore). In many ways, he had great depth to his six foot figure often spending time influencing a young kid from Texas by the name of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Albert and Stevie had a special relationship. Distinctly Albert was Stevie's 'blues father' often giving good advise about bad situations. The influence of Albert on Stevie's playing was an example of the respect and admiration Stevie felt for Albert as both friend and musician. (check out Jennifer Warren's cover of First We Take Manhattan by Leonard Cohen featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan)
'Livewire Blues' featuring his slow blues version of 'Blues at Sunrise' and his classic signature tune 'Bluespower'. Probably the record release of 'Born Under a Bad Sign' placed him into the popular mainstream of blues and some timely commercial recognition. The song was later covered by Eric Clapton in Cream.
A short time before his death, Albert King played a blues festival in Montreal. The University of Mississippi publication 'Livin Blues Magazine' was help sponsoring him and also other American acts like Buddy Guy who was on the same billing. At the afternoon soundcheck, Buddy Guy showed at the side of the stage while Albert was playing. Albert called the security to have this guy in overall jeans removed. The security informed Albert of who Buddy was. Of course this kind of humor was all part of Albert's efforts to deal with the fact that he fame never delivered the dollars like it did for other blues artists like B.B. King.
Nevertheless, Albert King sured paid his dues to sing the blues. He deserves to be recognized. His discography is actually quite large. Albert is really worth checking out; he is a lesson in soulful blues power and the art of less is more.
"If you don't like the blues you got a whole in your soul" Albert King
Written by Danny Mott
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