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King Curtis


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Curtis Ousley (February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971), who performed under the name King Curtis, was an American tenor, alto, and soprano saxophonist who played rhythm and blues, soul, rock, and soul jazz.

Curtis was born in Fort Worth, Texas. During the 1950s and early to mid 1960s he both worked as a session player on such records as Yakety Yak and recorded his own singles. His best known singles from this period are “Soul Twist” (Enjoy) and “Soul Serenade” (Capitol). In 1965 he moved to Atlantic Records, where his most successful singles were “Memphis Soul Stew” and “Ode to Billie Joe. ” He led Aretha Franklin’s backup band, The Kingpins, and produced records, at first with Jerry Wexler and then by himself.

Curtis guested on John Lennon’s Imagine and was capable of attracting the best session musicians to put in appearances for his own albums, including Eric Clapton, guitarist Duane Allman on Instant Groove, and organist Billy Preston and drummer Bernard Purdie on Live At Fillmore West.

On Saturday August 13 1971 he was stabbed outside his apartment and pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.


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  • reagan0

    King Curtis certainly had a lot of respect in the music industry. His collaborations were legendary. Everyone from The Coasters to Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Aretha Franklin and John Lennon, just to name a few. Great sax!

    11 Dec 2014 Reply
  • BallerCraig

    I love them on late '60s and early '70s on 7"s...

    24 Jun 2014 Reply
  • Cat_007

    nice....soul twist

    30 Jan 2014 Reply
  • H-O-R-O-S-K-O-P


    6 Nov 2013 Reply
  • joseph667

    would love to have something with them together

    26 Apr 2013 Reply
  • coloradogila

    all of your comments are right on...Curtis and Duane Allman were great friends, that says it all to me. Both taken way too early.

    23 Aug 2012 Reply
  • le_petit_joe

    great, great, great

    21 Aug 2012 Reply
  • Ton87

    "This Is Instant Groove"

    6 Jul 2012 Reply
  • bluemondayuk

    Withnail & I

    4 Mar 2012 Reply
  • avalemert

    Gut-bustin' big tenor man... King Curtis. Taken from this world much too soon. All you gotta do is settle into "Tanya" ah... that's it. More people should listen to King Curtis that like the saxophone, I think sometimes people hear certain "names" and don't look or listen any further. Missing the immense expressiveness of the horn, not watered down or background, but in your face, power!

    22 Aug 2011 Reply
  • kevnik

    Sweet sax that's not afraid to kick your ass

    18 Dec 2010 Reply
  • ConradPoohs19


    21 Nov 2009 Reply
  • tmikos

    This man is criminally overlooked and forgotten. Live at Fillmore West is one of the best live albums I've ever heard in my life. There is no weak points... It's a shame how he died.

    17 Dec 2008 Reply
  • nothingbutflesh

    Live at Fillmore west is the most wonderful experience of my life so far.

    28 Apr 2008 Reply
  • stevekeiretsu

    live at fillmore west - towering genius :)

    2 Jan 2008 Reply