Albert King is a BJM favorite and an impressive guitarist for many reasons.
Born in 1923, he learned to play guitar from his father who was a church guitarist.
King was left handed but played a right-handed guitar upside without reversing the order of the strings. He used a secret tuning on his signature 1959 Gibson Flying V named “Lucy” and he never played with a pick. He once told a reporter “I never could hold [a pick] in my hand. I started out playing with one, but I’d be really gettin’ into it, and after a while the pick would sail across the house. I said to hell with this. So I just play with the meat of the thumb.”
Either despite or because of his unconventional way of playing, King was the undeniable pioneer of electric blues. He was able to bend notes farther and more powerfully than almost any other guitarist, he played heavy and loud, and always with tons of soul and flare.
His records influenced a generation of blues guitarists:
You can hear Albert King’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” in Eric Clapton’s solo in "Strange Brew".
King’s “As the Years Go Passing By” melody is the main riff played by Duane Allman in “Layla”.
Jimi Hendrix said Albert King was his idol. King said that he taught Hendrix “a lesson about the blues" when he opened for him at the Filmore in 1967. King said "I could have easily played his songs, but he couldn't play mine."
No one can play like Albert King but we sure love trying!
Interested in playing the blues with us? Jeff C is our blues-leaning guitar teacher on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM and Billy is teaching the blues on Saturdays at 11 AM plus we’ve been working on “Born Under a Bad Sign” in lots of our other online guitar classes. Join us!