One of the three great Kings of blues guitar, along with BB and Albert, Freddie King was a commanding singer and an awesome electric guitarist with fast fingers. He was a huge influence on Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and other pale-faced blues-rockers.
Originally from Dallas, he started playing guitar at six. He moved to Chicago as a teenager and started absorbing all the killer blues happening in the city. He started playing in bands in the early '50s and worked with Willie Dixon, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood Jr and others. When King got the call to cut a record with the El-Bee label in '56, Lockwood backed him.
The late '50s yielded few recordings but he established himself as a top live act on the West Side and often worked alongside Magic Sam. The early '60s found him recording for Federal and "Hide Away" (named for the Hide Away Lounge where he played) was a chart hit in '61, an instrumental that crossed over to white audiences. He followed up with a lot of touring with major R&B acts such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
After his first tour of Europe in '67, he signed to Cotillion and released two King Curtis-produced albums in '69 & '70. He started playing in the rock scene and signed to Leon Russell's Shelter label in the early '70s and his music took in more rock & funk influences. Heavy drinking and heavy touring caught up with him and he died at 42.