Willie King, Bluesman, Is Dead at 65

March 11, 2009

By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Published: March 10, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Willie King, a renowned Alabama blues singer and guitarist, died Sunday near his home in the rural community known as Old Memphis, Ala. He was 65.

His death was announced on his Web site, willie-king.com[sic].

He died suddenly of a heart attack, said Rick Asherson, who had been playing keyboards with him for several years.

With a voice reminiscent at times of Howlin’ Wolf and a style similar to John Lee Hooker’s, Mr. King appeared at blues festivals here and abroad. He first came to prominence outside west Alabama with his critically acclaimed 2001 CD, “Freedom Creek,” on the Rooster Blues record label. He brought an understanding of history and contemporary subject matter to songs like “Second Coming,” which invoked John Brown and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. King started the Freedom Creek Festival in 1997 on his farm on Freedom Creek in Pickens County, Ala., near the Mississippi state line. Since then, it has attracted top blues musicians and bands. It is scheduled for May 29 and May 30 this year.

Mr. Asherson said there were hopes of keeping the festival going as a memorial to Mr. King.

Source: NY TIMES MUSIC

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