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Earl King

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Earl King (Earl Silas Johnson IV, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 7, 1934 – April 17, 2003) was an American Rhythm & Blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter.

A composer of well known standards such as “Come On” (covered by Jimi Hendrix) and Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief”, he is an important figure in New Orleans R&B music.
His father, a local piano player, died when King was still a baby, and he was brought up by his mother. With his mother, he started going to church at an early age. In his youth he sang gospel music, but took the advice of a friend to switch to blues to make a better living.

King started to play guitar at age 15. Soon he started entering talent contests at local clubs including the Dew Drop Inn. It was at one of those clubs where he met his idol Guitar Slim. King started imitating Slim, and his presence gave a big impact on his musical directions. In 1954, when Slim was injured in an automobile accident (right around the time Slim had the #1 R&B hit with “The Things That I Used To Do”), King was deputized to continue Slim’s band tour, representing himself as Slim. After succeeding in this role, King became a regular at the Dew Drop Inn.
His first recording came in 1953. He released a 78 “Have you Gone Crazy” b/w “Begging At Your Mercy” on Savoy label as Earl Johnson. The following year, talent scout Johnny Vincent introduced King to Specialty label, and he recorded some sides including “Mother’s Love” which created a little stir locally. In 1955, King signed with Johnny Vincent’s label, Ace.

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  • DCDireWolf

    More people should know Earl King. Just great funky, brazzy, groove stuff that puts you in a good mood.

    15 Apr 2013 Reply
  • BJBooth

    The 4 Kings: B.B. Albert, Freddie & Earl, what a combo of talent

    16 Jan 2013 Reply
  • ginandjukes

    ♥ ♫ !

    4 Jan 2011 Reply

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