Freddie King

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Name: Freddie King

DOB/Location: September 3 1934, Gilmer, Texas; d. December 28 1976 

Brief Biography

If you’re into contemporary blues heroes like Joe Bonamassa, you really ought to check out Freddie King. King was a towering influence on electric blues, bridging Texas (where he was born in 1934) with Chicago (where he first came to fame in the early ’60s) blues styles, while also incorporating Country, Swing and Rock ’n’ Roll elements into his playing to become a pioneer of what would be known as blues-rock. He had an awesome, soulful singing voice, but comparisons early in his career to B.B. King led him to focus on ingenious instrumental compositions - for example his signature tune ‘Hide Away’ - and in doing so established himself as a guitar hero first and foremost.  

His fearsome electric tone was achieved with a combination of thumb and index finger picks (influenced by Lightnin’ Hopkins) on his Gibsons - initially a Les Paul, but more prominently ES-335, ES-345 and ES-355 guitars - a cranked up amp, and bags of attitude. He was a huge inspiration for Eric Clapton and other British Blues revival musicians in the 1960s including John Mayall (Clapton’s first album with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers featured a cover of ‘Hide Away’), Mick Taylor and Jeff Beck, as well as later Texas Blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The place to start to hear Freddie King is on his album Let’s Hide Away and Dance Away (1961) - which showcases his supercool '60s instrumentals - and his later records Freddie King Is A Blues Master (1969) and Texas Cannonball (1972). The latter demonstrates King’s versatility with his cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ - there was definitely a contemporary funk influence in King’s last few years of performing and recording which can be heard on the Live In Europe DVD collection, most of which is on YouTube.

Gear

Guitars
As mentioned above, Freddie King was associated with Gibson guitars - he is pictured with a Les Paul on the cover of Let’s Hide Away and Dance Away, but as you'll see from the video links below, he later used ES-335, ES-345 and ES-355 models.

Freddie King ES-345

Amps 
Freddie King favoured including the Super Reverb and Showman models. Part of his sound came from turning the amps up loud, whichever model he used!

Related Lessons

Hide Away [1/3] by Freddie King - ST-803
Hide Away [2/3] by Freddie King - ST-804

Lick #17: Freddie King: P1 ClassiC PK
Lick #24: Freddie King: P1 Pentrip
Lick #31: Freddie King: P1 Chro 3rds
Lick #45: Freddie King: P1 Tore it
Lick #52: Freddie King: P2 trip 3's
Lick #38: Freddie King: P1 FK turns
Lick #03: Freddie King: P2 Chro from 4
Lick #10: Freddie King: P2 Repeater Flick

Videos To Check Out

Most of the good Freddie King footage seems to be either from the 1966 broadcast of The !!! Beat TV show - which includes his iconic 'Hide Away' performance at the top of this page) and a DVD called Live in Europe which documents 10 performances from three locations in 1973 and 1974.  

Have You Ever Loved A Woman (1960s TV appearance on The !!! Beat)
Have You Ever Loved A Woman (1970s Live in Europe)  

Ain’t Nobody’s Business 

Going Down

Sweet Home Chicago

Ain’t No Sunshine

Links

Official Site
Gibson article

The Guitar Greats

- LESSON STEPS -

Grades

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