Check out these new and used Albert King vinyl records LPs for sale. Albert King was known as The Velvet Bulldozer because of his robust size and super smooth voice. Also, he used to drive a bulldozer as a job early in his career. King’s guitar playing has influenced many other blues guitarists. Start with his best known Album from 1967 titled Born Under a Bad Sign on the beloved Stax label, and we also recommend Years Gone By from 1969.
Albert King: The Blues Giant with the “Stinging” Guitar Sound
Albert King, a towering figure in the world of blues music, was born on April 25, 1923, in Indianola, Mississippi. His commanding stage presence, raw, emotional vocals, and a guitar style that could only be described as “stinging” left an indelible mark on the blues genre and inspired countless musicians. This is the story of the man who became known as “The Velvet Bulldozer.”
Early Life and Musical Roots
Albert King was born under the name Albert Nelson and raised in a family deeply immersed in the blues. He learned to play guitar from his family members, and his early musical education was filled with the sounds of Delta blues. He left Mississippi for the lively music scene of St. Louis, Missouri, where he began his journey as a professional musician.
Signature Guitar and Sound
One of the defining features of Albert King’s music was his unusual guitar, a 1958 Gibson Flying V. This guitar became synonymous with his unique style, characterized by its biting, stinging tone. King was a left-handed player who re-strung his guitar upside down, which contributed to the distinctive sound he produced. He played with the guitar upside down because he found it more comfortable and attributed his signature tone to this unorthodox approach.
Pioneering the Blues “Bend”
Albert King was a master of bending guitar strings to create notes that seemed to cry and wail. His aggressive and expressive string bending technique is often imitated but rarely duplicated. It was this style that gave his guitar its unmistakable, biting tone, and it became a hallmark of the “Albert King sound.”
Electric Blues and Modern Blues Rock
King was a pivotal figure in the transition from traditional acoustic blues to the electric blues that would later evolve into rock. He used powerful amplifiers and was known for his strong, assertive guitar playing. His blues had a raw, driving edge that helped set the stage for the blues-rock explosion of the 1960s and ’70s.
Hits and Influence
Albert King’s discography includes many timeless blues classics, such as “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “The Sky Is Crying,” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.” His 1967 album “Born Under a Bad Sign” is considered a landmark blues record and remains highly regarded by fans and musicians alike.
King’s influence extended far beyond the world of blues. His guitar playing left a significant impact on a wide range of artists, from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Moore. His music also played a crucial role in shaping modern blues rock.
Unique Vocal Style
In addition to his guitar skills, King’s vocal style was distinctive and emotionally charged. His raw, expressive voice was a perfect match for the themes of heartache, loss, and love that are central to the blues. His singing had a power and grit that perfectly complemented his fiery guitar work.
Perseverance and Later Career
Albert King faced his share of personal and professional challenges throughout his life, including struggles with alcohol and a series of injuries. However, he continued to perform and record, becoming an enduring presence in the blues world.
In 1983, he achieved mainstream recognition with his appearance on the legendary “Blues Brothers” movie, performing “Born Under a Bad Sign” with Jake and Elwood Blues. This cameo exposed his music to a broader audience and introduced a new generation to the blues.
Legacy and Passing
Albert King’s contribution to the blues world is immeasurable. He passed away on December 21, 1992, in Memphis, Tennessee, leaving behind a legacy that continues to influence blues and rock musicians to this day. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and posthumously received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant impact on the world of music.
Albert King’s “stinging” guitar sound and emotive vocals remain an integral part of the blues genre. He is remembered not only for his powerful music but also for his lasting influence on generations of musicians. His legacy lives on through his recordings and the countless artists who strive to capture the essence of his unique sound and style.