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Albert King

On 25/04/1923: Albert King was born in Indianola, Mississippi probably. There is some confusion about his birth place. He would claim he was born on a plantation in Indianola, was named Albert King and was a half brother of B. B. King. When he applied for Social Security in 1942 he gave his birthplace as "Aboden" (possibly meant to be Aberdeen), Mississippi and his name as Albert Nelson. Nelson would also be the surname that a lot of musicians knew him by before 1953. He would sing at a church with a family gospel group during his childhood. When he was 8, his family moved to a cotton plantation near Forrest City, Arkansas. He would grow up picking cotton on the plantations. His first guitar was made out of a cigar box, a piece of bush and a strand of broom wire. He would later buy a guitar for $1.25. Albert was left handed and learnt to play with standard tuning but the guitar reversed.
Albert joined the group the Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas. After moving to Gary, Indiana and later St Louis, Missouri, he briefly played drums in Jimmy Reed's band. Albert would feature on drums for some early Reed recordings. Soon though, Albert was predominately playing the guitar and was influenced by blues musicians such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson. He called his Gibson Flying V guitar Lucy, similar to how B. B. King called his guitar Lucille. Albert would be given the nickname "The Velvet Bulldozer" during the period as he was working as a bulldozer as well as a working as a mechanic.
In 1953, King moved to Chicago. There he recorded his first single for Parrot Records. The recording was a minor regional success.
In 1956, King moved to Brooklyn, Illinois. There he formed a new band.
In 1959, King had his first minor hit with the song "I'm a Lonely Man" written by Little Milton an A&R man for Bobbin Records. Milton was responsible for King signing with the label.
In 1961, King had his first major hit with the song "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong". It reached number 14 on the Billboard R&B chart.
In 1962, King released his debut album "The Big Blues". He would sign to jazz artist Leo Gooden's Coun-Tree label.
In 1966, King moved to Memphis and signed with the Stax record label. King would record dozens of popular sides with Booker T. & the MGs, produced by Al Jackson Jr. Songs included "Crosscut Saw" and "As The Years Go Passing By".
In 1967, Stax released the album "Born Under a Bad Sign" which were a collection of the single which King had recorded for Stax. The title track would become King's most well-known song.
In 1968, King released the live album "Live Wire/Blues Power". It was recorded at promoter Bill Graham's Filmore Auditorium.
In 1969, King performed live with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Also in 1969, King released the album "Years Gone By".
In 1970, King released the Elvis Presley tribute album "Blues for Elvis - King Does the King's Things". Also in 1970, King joined the Doors on stage at the Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver. The performance was later released as a live album in 2010.
In 1971, King released the album "Lovejoy".
In 1972, King released the album "I'll Play the Blues For You".
During the 1970s, King would collaborate with members of the Bar-Keys and the Movement (Isaac Haye's backing group) including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall. With the new musicians, he added funk elements to his material. Producers Allen Jones and Henry Bush would create a wall of sound style on King's material in contrast to his earlier work with Stax.
In 1974, King released the album "I Wanna Get Funky" with the Bar-Keys.
In 1975, King appeared on Albert Brook's comedy album "A Star is Bought". Also in 1975, Stax filed for bankruptcy. King moved to the Utopia label.
In 1976, King released the album "Albert" and the album "Truckload of Lovin'". They featured more pop music.
In 1977, King released the album "King Albert". Also in 1977, King released the album "Live Blues". It would be his last album for Utopia.
Clara McDaniel joined King on tour after performing with him at Ned Love's Club. When she returned home she managed King's fleet of taxicabs.
In 1978, King signed to a new label called Tomato Records. In the same year, King released the album "New Orleans Heat" with R&B producer Allen Toussaint.
King would take a four-year break from recording and went back to his roots as a blues artist with just guitar, bass, drums and piano.
In 1983, King released the live album "Crosscut Saw: Albert King in San Francisco" with Fantasy Records. Also in 1983, King recorded a TV studio session of CHCH Television which featured Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was released later as an album.
In 1984, King recorded the album "I'm in a Phone Booth, Baby". King would have health problems but continued to tour regularly and perform at blues festivals. His tour bus was a customised Greyhound tour bus with the slogan "I'll Play The Blues For You" on the side.
In 1992, King would record the album "Red House" but it was ignored and original copies of it are rare.
On 21/12/1992, King died of a heart attack at his home in Memphis.
In 2013, King was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
King has a star on the St Louis Walk of Fame.

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
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