Freddie King was born Fred King in Gilmer, Texas on the 3rd of September, 1934. Freddie began learning the guitar at the tender age of 6 from his Mother and Uncle.
When Freddie was in his teens he and his family relocated from Texas to the South Side of Chicago. It’s here that Freddie would sneak into infamous South Side nightclubs to hear blues music performed by the likes of T-Bone Walker, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Sunny Boy Williamson.
Freddie began his musical career with a band called “The Every Hour Blues Boys”, he enjoyed a successful stint as a side man for such bands as the Little Sonny Cooper Band and Earl Payton’s Blues Cats.
After being rejected by Chess Records, the South Sides premier label for blues artist after complaints that he sang to much like B.B. King, Freddie went on to establish himself as the biggest musical force on Chicago’s West Side.
Freddie later went on to experience unprecedented success with his iconic blues instrumental “Hide Away”.
“Hide Away” was released originally as a B-side for “I Love the Woman” but went on to reach #5 on the R&B Charts and #29 on the Pop Singles Charts. This was a phenomenal accomplishment for a blues instrumental seeing that at the time blues was still a relatively undiscovered style of music for the majority of white audiences.
Techniques And Musical Concepts They Popularised
Freddie King has been cited as one of the first blues pioneers to successfully mix blues with rock and pop music.
Freddie’s explosive singing style, exciting and energetic guitar playing, and hybrid mixture of different musical styles with his raw and raunchy blues approach, has credited him many times over with developing the “Blues Rock” genre.
Freddie also developed a successful blend of Texas styles and Chicago style blues, blurring the lines between the two blues styles.
Freddie achieved his jagged, edgy tone through a Gibson ES-335 with his amplifier turned all the way up to eleven. The way he picked his strings, using a plastic thumb pick and a metal pick on his index finger also played a large role in the development of his signature tone.
Notable Rock Guitar Players They Influenced
Freddie King’s experimental blues rock approach, explosive vocal style and energetic and exciting performances have influenced guitar players the world over from many different genres.
In 1966, Eric Clapton recorded a cover of Freddie King’s signature classic “Hide Away” with John Mayall and the Blues Breakers for the album “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton”. The album reached number 6 on the charts in the UK and is credited by Eric as the album that gave him his breakthrough as a guitar player and helped him develop his signature sound.
Freddie’s explosive cover of Don Nix’s song “Going Down” has been covered by countless rock guitar greats, most notably Jeff Beck with the Jeff Beck Group, and remains a staple of the blues rock guitar style.
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