Freddie King: The Master Blues Showman

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Freddie King. In reality, that’s a whole sentence in itself.

Freddie King, people.

His talent was on par with the other Kings of blues, but he’s perhaps the least talked about King.  Why is that?

B.B. lived to be the ripe age of 89. Albert kept it going until age 69. Poor Freddie only made it to age 42.

Maybe he’s buried in time and forgotten, but I think otherwise.

Freddie King was a spectacular guitarist. His intense lead ‘bursts’ will always be remembered. Truly an all-time great, but such a spectacular vocalist, too.

If you doubt the power of Freddie, I submit the following video of his performance of “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. You can’t tell me that he’s not in 100% ownership of the stage! By far the best facial expressions in all of guitar playing history…

First, Freddie amazes us with his guitar manship for the better part of four minutes before he even begins the first verse. By the time he starts singing you have forgotten what you came here for.

The viewer is transfixed by his stage presence, the listener is awed by his demeanor, and the blues has set in.

Take a gander and Eric Clapton’s version of the same song. Clapton’s rendition is awesome in its own right but Freddie totally owns the song whereas Clapton has merely purchased a timeshare.  I’m in no way knocking Clapton. The cat can swing. I’m just trying to provide a little contrast so to better appreciate King. Clapton and King’s guitar styles are quite different.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIU7GZ_yLhI

If you want to play along with the videos know that it’s (of course) slow blues using the “quick change” progression. Freddie’s version in the key of D. Clapton’s is in C.

As in most blues songs, the lyrics are simple and straightforward. The focus of the song is “the blues”.

Have you ever loved a woman
So much you tremble in pain?
Have you ever loved a woman
So much you tremble in pain?
And all the time you know
She bears another man’s name.

But you just love that woman
So much it’s a shame and a sin.
You just love that woman
So much it’s a shame and a sin.
But all the time you know
She belongs to your very best friend.

Have you ever loved a woman
And you know you can’t leave her alone?
Have you ever loved a woman
And you know you can’t leave her alone?
Something deep inside of you
Won’t let you wreck your best friend’s home.

King toured constantly. He was on the road almost 300 days of the year.  During such, he liked to party and live the lifestyle. The stress of constant touring weighed heavily on him as well. He began suffering from stomach ulcers and his health began to quickly deteriorate. On December 28 of 1976, Freddie King died from complications of this illness and acute pancreatitis, at the age of 42. He was a bright star while he lasted, but eventually, he gave a little too much.