sábado, 6 de agosto de 2011

Albert King

Albert King (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992) was an American blues guitarist and singer, and a major influence in the world of blues guitar playing.
One of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with B. B. King and Freddie King), Albert King stood 6' 4" (192 cm) (some reports say 6' 7") and weighed 250 lbs (118 kg) and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer". He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi, also the birthplace of B.B. King. Although the two were not related, Albert occasionally referred to himself as "B.B. King's half brother". During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church where his father played the guitar. One of 13 children, King grew up picking cotton on plantations near Forrest City, Arkansas, where the family moved when he was eight.

He began his professional work as a musician with a group called In The Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas. Moving north to Gary, Indiana and later St. Louis, Missouri, he briefly played drums for Jimmy Reed's band and on several early Reed recordings. Influenced by blues musicians Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson, but also, interestingly enough, Hawaiian music, the electric guitar became his signature instrument, his preference being the Gibson Flying V which he named "Lucy". King earned his nickname "The Velvet Bulldozer" during this period as he drove one of them and also worked as a mechanic to make a living.
King moved to Chicago in 1953 where he cut his first single for Parrot Records, but it was only a minor regional success. He then went back to St. Louis in 1956 and formed a new band. It was during this period that he settled on using the Flying V as his primary guitar.
He resumed recording in 1959 with his first minor hit "I'm a Lonely Man" written by Bobbin Records A&R man and fellow guitar hero Little Milton, responsible for King's signing with the label. However, it was not until his 1961 release "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" that he had a major hit,[1] reaching number fourteen on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. The song was included on his first album The Big Blues, released in 1962. He then signed with jazz artist Leo Gooden's Coun-Tree label. King's reputation continued to grow in the Midwest, but a jealous Gooden then dropped him from the label. In 1966, he went to Memphis and signed with the Stax record label. Produced by Al Jackson, Jr., King with Booker T. & the MGs recorded dozens of influential sides, such as "Crosscut Saw" and "As The Years Go Passing By", and in 1967 Stax released the album, Born Under a Bad Sign. The title track of that album (written by Booker T. Jones and William Bell) became King's best known song and has been covered by many artists (from Cream to Homer Simpson). The success of the album made King nationally known for the first time and began to influence white musicians.

Another landmark album followed in Live Wire/Blues Power from one of many dates King played at promoter Bill Graham's Fillmore venues. It had a wide and long-term influence on Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson, and later Gary Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan ("Criminal World", on David Bowie's 1983 release "Let's Dance", features a guitar solo copied note-for-note from his hero Albert King by young session musician Stevie Ray Vaughan).
In 1969, King performed live with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. During the early '70s, he recorded an album Lovejoy with a group of white rock singers, an Elvis Presley tribute album, Albert King Does The King's Things, and a cameo on a Mel Brooks comedy album A Star is Bought.
According to Bill Graham, "Albert was one of the artists I used many times for various reasons. He wasn't just a good guitar player; he had a wonderful stage presence, he was very congenial and warm, he was relaxed on stage, and he related to the public. Also he never became a shuck-and-jiver. One of the things that happened in the '60s--it's not a very nice thing to say, but it happens to be true--was that blues musicians began to realize that white America would accept anything they did on stage. And so many of them became jive. But Albert remained a guy who just went on stage and said 'Let's play.'"

On June 6, 1970, King joined The Doors on stage at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada. He lent his distinctive guitar to blues cuts such as “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” “Rock Me” and “Who Do You Love.”
In the 1970s, King was teamed with members of The Bar-Kays and The Movement (Isaac Hayes's backing group), including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall adding strong funk elements to his music. Adding strings and multiple rhythm guitarists, producers Allen Jones and Henry Bush created a wall of sound that contrasted the sparse, punchy records King made with Booker T. & the MGs. Among these was another of King's signature tunes "I'll Play the Blues For You" in 1972.
King influenced others such as Mick Taylor, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Mike Bloomfield and Joe Walsh (the James Gang guitarist spoke at King's funeral). He also had an impact on contemporaries Albert Collins and Otis Rush. Clapton has said that his work on the 1967 Cream hit "Strange Brew" and throughout the album Disraeli Gears was inspired by King.
By the late 1980s, King began to muse about retirement, not unreasonable given that he had health problems. He continued regular tours and appearances at blues festivals, using (since the '70s) a customized Greyhound tour bus with "I'll Play The Blues For You" painted on the side. Shortly before his death, he was planning yet another overseas tour. His final album, Red House, was recorded in 1992 and named for the Jimi Hendrix song that he covered on it. The album was largely ignored because of bad production quality (the background instrumentals drowning out King's guitar playing), and original copies of it are scarce.
King died on December 21, 1992 from a heart attack in his Memphis, Tennessee home. His final concert had been in Los Angeles two days earlier. He was given a funeral procession with the Memphis Horns playing When The Saints Go Marching In and buried in Edmonson, Arkansas near his childhood home.

Albert King, nacido Albert Nelson (25 de abril de 1923 - 21 de diciembre de 1992) fue un influyente guitarrista y cantante estadounidense de Blues.
Considerado uno de los Tres Reyes del Blues a la guitarra (junto a B.B.King y Freddie King), su altura de más de 1.90 metros y sus 118 kilos de peso le valieron el sobrenombre de The Velvet Bulldozer (la excavadora de terciopelo).
Nacido como Albert Nelson en una humilde familia de Indianola, Mississippi, en una plantación de algodón donde trabajó sus primeros años. Una de sus más tempranas influencias musicales fue su propio padre, Will Nelson, que tocaba la guitarra con asiduidad.
Durante su infancia cantó en un grupo familiar de gospel en la iglesia local.

Su primer trabajo como profesional comenzaría con el grupo In the Groove Boys, en Osceola, Arkansas. Durante un tiempo también tocó la batería para la banda de Jimmy Reed. Pero su instrumento fundamental iba a ser la guitarra eléctrica, y su preferida fue la Gibson Flying V, a la que llamó Lucy. El sello característico de Albert King fue su forma de coger la guitarra: como intérprete zurdo la usaba invertida, pero a diferencia de otros guitarristas zurdos como Jimi Hendrix o Tony Iommi, King jamás invirtió el orden del encordado, de modo que para él las cuerdas más agudas permanecen arriba.
Su primer éxito fue I´m a Lonely Man, aparecido en 1959. Pero no sería hasta 1961 cuando logró su primer gran éxito, con Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong, número catorce en las listas R&B. En 1966 firmó con la famosa discografía Stax y en 1967 apareció su legendario álbum Born Under A Bad Sign. La canción que dio el nombre al álbum (escrita por Booker T. Jones y William Bell) se convirtió en la canción más famosa de King y ha sido versionada por numerosos artistas (desde Cream hasta Homer Simpson). El 1 de febrero de 1968 King fue contratado por el promotor Bill Graham para una actuación en el Fillmore Auditorium en un concierto de varios artistas, entre los que estaba Jimi Hendrix. El concierto lo iniciaron los Soft Machine, teloneros de Hendrix durante varios conciertos de éste a principios de 1968. El público estaba impaciente por ver a King y a Hendrix y cuando Soft Machine empezaron a tocar, la gente empezó a gritar el nombre de Albert King. Eso provocó el enfado del promotor Graham, que salió al escenario y reprochó al público su falta de respeto hacia los artistas que tocaban en ese momento. Aquellos que asistieron al concierto relataron que King se adueñó del recital, ya que la gente esperaba la electricidad de Hendrix pero King se los puso en el bolsillo gracias a sus mágicos dedos después de tocar un par de baladas. Uno de los grandes momentos fue cuando fue capaz de sustituir una cuerda que se le había roto sin dejar de tocar. Cuando Hendrix salío al escenario lo primero que dijo fue: Ok, Albert King, he cogido la indirecta. Y se puso a tocar algunos de los acordes de King como homenaje.

King influyó a muchos guitarristas de blues como Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Gary Moore, y Stevie Ray Vaughan. El solo de guitarra de Eric Clapton en el éxito de Cream, Strange Brew ( del álbum Disraeli Gears) es una emulación del solo de King en su éxito con Stax, Oh, Pretty Woman.
En 1983 Albert King grabó junto a Stevie Ray Vaughan uno de los éxitos de ambos músicos In session. Unos años después Albert daría un concierto junto a BB King y otros artistas como Robert Cray, Etta James, Junior Wells. En 1988 Albert acudirá como invitado junto a Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Gladys Knight, Paul Butterfield, Chaka Khan y Billy Ocean un especial BB King and Friends.
En 1988 Albert King y BB King Big brother of blues como llamaba BB king cariñosamente a Albert, actuaron juntos en el Japan Blues Carnival de 1989.
Una de las últimas contribuciones de King sería en 1990 con el guitarrista Gary Moore en el álbum Still Got the Blues, con una nueva versión de Oh, Pretty Woman. Esta contribución conllevó a que King apareciera como invitado en los conciertos de una gira europea de Moore, junto a Albert Collins.
King falleció de un ataque cardíaco el 21 de diciembre de 1992, en Memphis, Tennessee. Su nombre está incluido en el Paseo de la Fama de St. Louis.

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