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Freddie King

Freddie King

Freddie King (September 3, 1934 – December 28, 1976) was an American blues guitarist and singer. He recorded several hits for Federal Records in the early 1960s. His soulful and powerful voice and distinctive guitar style inspired many musicians, particularly guitarists. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.


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King based his guitar style on Texas blues and Chicago blues influences. His best-known recordings include the early instrumentals “Hide Away” (1961), “San-Ho-Zay,” (1961) and “The Stumble” (1962). The album Freddy King Sings showcased his singing talents and included the record chart hits “You’ve Got to Love Her with a Feeling” and “I’m Tore Down”. He later became involved with more rhythm and blues- and rock-oriented producers and was one of the first bluesmen to have a multiracial backing band at live performances.

According to his birth certificate, he was named Fred King, and his parents were Ella Mae King and J. T. Christian. When Freddie was six years old, his mother and his uncle began teaching him to play the guitar. In autumn 1949, he and his family moved from Dallas to the South Side of Chicago.

In 1952 King started working in a steel mill. In the same year, he married another Texas native, Jessie Burnett. They had seven children.


Almost as soon as he had moved to Chicago, King started sneaking into South Side nightclubs, where he heard blues performed by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, and Sonny Boy Williamson. King formed his first band, the Every Hour Blues Boys, with the guitarist Jimmie Lee Robinson and the drummer Frank “Sonny” Scott. In 1952, while employed at a steel mill, the eighteen-year-old King occasionally worked as a sideman with such bands as the Little Sonny Cooper Band and Earl Payton’s Blues Cats. In 1953 he recorded with the latter for Parrot Records, but these recordings were never released. As the 1950s progressed, King played with several of Muddy Waters’ sidemen and other Chicago mainstays, including the guitarist’s Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood Jr., Eddien Taylor, and Hound Dog Taylor; the bassist Willie Dixon; the pianist Memphis Slim; and the harmonicist Little Walter.

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