As perhaps the most influential of all electric bluesmen, Freddie’s licks can still be heard in the styles of today’s guitarists, says Les Davidson.
Les Davidson introduces one of the most iconic of all bluesmen - the legendary Freddie King.
Fred (aka Freddie) King is frequently referred to as one of blues guitar’s Royal Trio alongside BB and Albert. The Texas King! During the ’60s he rose to fame with his catchy, instant-hit style blues tracks, such as I’m Tore Down and The Stumble. Despite his early death at 42 his influence was hugely significant, particularly in providing the bridge that crossed the blues and rock genres, with Eric Clapton among his many admirers.
Freddie was born in 1934 in Gilmore, Texas. His mother and uncle Leon played guitar and taught the young Freddie around the age of six to learn rural country blues. The young Fred took to it like a duck to water, and as a child was the happy recipient of his cherished Roy Rogers acoustic.
In late 1949 the King family relocated to Chicago, the home, of course, of electric blues guitar. His move to Chicago opened up his musical landscape, exposing him to performances of musicians such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker and Elmore James. Around 1952 Freddie got a job working in a steel mill and in the same year he married fellow Texan, Jessie Burnett, with whom he had seven children.
However, the performers he had seen would go on to shape his career and it wasn’t long before Freddie was playing with his own band as The Every Hour Blues Boy, and he was signed to El-Bee records. King would go on to record an impressive 24 albums with a variety of different labels.
His premature death at the age of 42 cut short a fantastic career that would posthumously see him inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and rank 15th in Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Freddie is a true legend and a bona fide King Of The Blues.
Freddie tends to leave space in between his lines and uses repeating motifs to make the musical point. He was also one of the first to use string bending as a central part of his technique, rather than as an occasional effect. Example 1 includes both of these musical ideas. Freddie used a thumb pick and a metal first finger pick, but hybrid picking or flesh only will both work great.
LIFE IS LIKE A GREAT BIG WHEEL, YOU GOTTA GRAB AT THE SPOKES AS THE WHEEL GOES ROUND Freddie King
Freddie King with ubiquitous Gibson ES-345