Freddy King, ¨The Texas Cannonball¨, was born in Guilmer, Texas in 1934. His mother and uncle taught started teaching him to play guitar when he was 6. At 16 years of age, he moved with his family from Texas to Chicago.
The guitar playing style of Freddy King is a unique mixture of Chicago and Texas blues. He had a style that was comparable to his contemporaries Magic Sam and Otis Rush, and together with these artists he was instrumental in revitalizing Chicago blues. At the same time, his guitar playing was heavily influenced by Texas players such as Albert Collins, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and Lightning Hopkins.
He was also extremely important to not just the blues, but culture in general, as he was the first important blues musician to have an interracial band. Amongst the general public, he´s probably best known for his radio hits Have You Ever Loved a Woman (1960) and his top 40 charting Hide Away (1961), but if you ask diehard blues aficionados what his best albums are, they will likely mention Let´s Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King (1961) and Burglar (1974), the latter of which incorporates funk influences into the mix.
The tone of the heavily overdriven Gibson guitars that King used throughout most of his recordings was especially influential to British blues based musicians such as Eric Clapton, Chicken Shack (which featured ¨Christine Perfect¨, who would later become Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mack fame), Jeff Beck, and others who would bridge the gap between Rhythm and Blues and Hard Rock. Clapton even once said that ¨the first time I heard that electric lead guitar style, with the bent notes…it started me on my path¨
Speaking of Hard Rock, fans of that genre who are familiar with the Grand Funk Railroad song ¨We´re an American Band¨ will recognize the song´s lyric Up all night with Freddy King/I´ve got to tell you, poker´s his thing. This is how the Grand Funk Railroad drummer and author of the song tells it:
Freddy King was the opening act for us, the great blues guitar player from Texas. It always struck me as funny that he would make his band play poker with him every night. We used to sit in on some of the poker games, and that´s where the line came from. His band, he´d pay them, and then he´d go win all the money back so they were broke and they´d have to keep paying him. It was a great deal! A lot of people don´t know who Freddy King is. Anybody who knows about Freddy King immediately picks it up. People who don´t say, ´what are you saying, that Focus can´t sing?¨¨