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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eddie King and the Swamp Bees

Eddie King (April 21, 1938 – March 14, 2012) was an American Chicago blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. Living Blues once stated "King is a potent singer and player with a raw, gospel-tinged voice and an aggressive, thick-toned guitar sound". He was noted as creating a "straightforward style, after Freddie King and Little Milton" King was born Edward Lewis Davis Milton in Talladega, Alabama, United States. His parents were both musical, with his father playing guitar and his mother a gospel singer. King learned basic guitar riffs from watching from outside the window of local blues clubs, and was inspired by the playing of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Little Walter. He grew up playing alongside Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, Eddie C. Campbell, and Freddie King. He relocated to Chicago, Illinois, in 1954, and his diminutive stature and the influence of B.B. King led to him being referred to as 'Little Eddie King'. Given a break by Little Mack Simmons,[4] he first recorded under the tutelage of Willie Dixon and, in 1960, played on several tracks recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson II. He also recorded with Detroit Junior. Also in 1960, King had a single released by J.O.B. Records, "Shakin' Inside" / "Love You Baby". He then became the guitarist backing Koko Taylor, a role he undertook for two decades. Separately forming Eddie King & the Kingsmen in 1969, King moved to Peoria, Illinois, in the early 1980s. Since the early 1990s, King's backing ensemble were known as the Swamp Bees, and his output has incorporated Chicago blues, country blues, blues shouter, and soul. His debut album, The Blues Has Got Me (1987), was issued by the Netherlands based record label, Black Magic, and later re-released by Double Trouble. It featured one of his sisters, Mae Bee May, on vocals. In 1997, King recorded Another Cow's Dead, which got a Blues Music Award for 'Best Comeback Blues Album'. It was arranged by Lou Marini. His songwriting credits include "Kitty Kat", described by one journalist as "hilarious". King died in Peoria, Illinois, in March 2012, at the age of 73. In October 2012 the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit organization, placed a headstone on King's unmarked grave at the Lutheran Cemetery in Peoria, IL.

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