Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 93

Freddie King courtesy of Bear Family Records/VG Archive.

Chris Simmons uses
aftermarket pickups and
switches in the guitar,
but keeps its original
electronics stowed
away. (RIGHT) King
with a stop-tail 345.

a vocalesque vibrato,
a n d s i n g l e -n ot e
passages that borrowed rhy t h m ically from several
st yle s i nclud i ng
jump blues. While
his wheelhouse was
uptempo instrumental
blues like "The Stumble,"
"Remington Ride," "Side
Tracked," and "San-Ho-Zay," he
was well-served by a strong, soulful
voice as heard on "Have You Ever
Loved A Woman," "Someday After
Awhile You'll Be Sorry," "Going
Down," and "I'm Tore Down."
King was the first guitarist to take
the nascent blues-rock form born
by T-Bone Walker and turn it into
crossover hits. In 1961 alone, he
placed six singles on Billboard's R&B
chart (four of which reached the
Top 10) - "Hide Away," "Lonesome
Whistle Blues," "San-Ho-Zay," "See
See Baby," "I'm Tore Down," and
for the holidays, "Christmas Tears."
King's work was marked by superb
musicianship. In a style taught to him
by Jimmy Rogers, he played upstrokes
using a steel fingerpick on his index
finger, downstrokes with a plastic

thumbpick. And while he never
played slide, his work displayed
hints of Elmore James and Earl
Hooker.
Beyond Stevie Ray Vaughan
and his older brother, Jimmie,
he was hugely influential to bluesrockers like Lonnie Brooks, Billy
Gibbons, Luther and Bernard Allison,
and Johnny Winter.
Additionally, King's
style and songs heavily
influenced the thriving
blues scene in England
in the early/mid 1960s;
the most overt example
may be Eric Clapton, who covered "Hide Away"
on the legendar y Blues

Breakers
album and
cited King repeatedly through
the years, say ing
t he sing le "Have
You Ever Loved
A Woman" and
its B-side "Hide

January 2018

93

VINTAGE GUITAR

Away," made King his guitar
hero. In fact, it spurred Clapton
to track down his first Les Paul.
Peter Green and Mick Taylor
were also fans.
King's choice of instruments
is delineated between the early-'60s
tracks for which he used a '54 Gibson
Les Paul Model (a.k.a. goldtop) and
from the mid '60s on, when he played
a series of Gibson semi-hollowbodies
including more than one with Vari-Tone
circuitry. Some had stop tailpieces,
others a trapeze or Vibrola. After his
fame had waned, King sold some of his
guitars to acquaintances including pianist/composer/songwriter/producer
and Shelter Records co-founder Leon
Russell. One was the '68 ES-345 used
on his first album for the label, 1971's
Getting Ready.
Later, on his own tours, Russell often
passed time sharing stories as the busses
rolled down the highway. From 2007
until 2012, Chris Simmons was his lead
guitarist - a gig that not only broadened
Simmons' musical horizons, but landed
the 345 in his care.
The story began one night a few
months after Simmons had joined
Russell's band. His new boss was telling
the story of how Freddie King called,
saying, "Hey, Leon, I have a couple
of guitars to sell.
Would you like to
buy them?"
Familiar with
K ing a nd his
music, Simmons
wa s fa sci nated
by the narrative.
Then, after the tour
ended, Russell invited
Simmons over for a
visit and told him,
"Why don't you


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 4
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