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.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

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.


Fred­die King with ubiq­ui­tous Gib­son ES-345

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