Bobby King

Biography by

Not to be confused with the late R&B singer of the same name, Bobby King is an excellent, though underexposed, jazz reedman/pianist who has played a variety of instruments and can handle inside and outside…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Not to be confused with the late R&B singer of the same name, Bobby King is an excellent, though underexposed, jazz reedman/pianist who has played a variety of instruments and can handle inside and outside playing equally well. The L.A. native moved around a lot over the years, living in New York as well as San Francisco, Cleveland, and Las Vegas. Classically trained at the Juilliard School of Music, King got his first break in jazz when, in 1956, Lionel Hampton hired him for a North American tour at the recommendation of pianist Elmo Hope. King toured with Stan Kenton in 1960 and went on to play live with Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins, Philly Joe Jones, Sonny Stitt, and quite a few others in the 1960s. On stage, he played many two-tenor duets with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and 1967 found him sitting in with John Coltrane at New York's Village Vanguard. But regrettably, King's live performances weren't very well-documented, and his studio albums as a leader were few and far between. King's debut album as leader, Staten Island Blues, was recorded for the Jazzer label in 1965 and employed such notables as vibist Mike Mainieri, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Mickey Roker. He went on to record five more albums for various labels before hiring trumpeter Bill Shew, pianist Bill Mays, drummer Shelly Manne, and others for the superb Inside the Outer Kingdom in 1983. The album went unreleased until 1995, when it came out on Del-Fi. Except for Kingdom, none of King's albums became available on CD. The late '90s found King continuing to play live around L.A.