The Mississippi native bought his first guitar at the age of 12 and got his first big break in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio show in West Memphis. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips who would go on to found Sun Records, another American institution. Although he will turn 85 in September, King continues to tour extensively, averaging over 250 concerts per year around the globe. It's almost like performing is as automatic for the guitar legend as breathing or performing a solo.
King's latest release is 2008's One King of Favor, which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album; that is just one of his 15 Grammies. King's guitar sound is one of the most recognizable in music much like Eric Clapton whom he has played and recorded with and obviously influenced.
On Sunday night, you can probably bet on (no casino pun intended) King playing favorites like The Thrill Is Gone, Payin' The Cost To Be The Boss, and Everyday I Have The Blues. Oh, and of course, he will be joined on stage by Lucille, his famous guitar. Ever since the mid-50s, every one of King's Gibson guitars has been named Lucille. Why Lucille?
Over fifty years ago in Arkansas during a show, a fight broke out that led to a fire at the venue. Although King made it safely outside, he realized his $30 acoustic guitar was still in the building. He went back in to get it and barely made it out of the burning building a second time. The reason for the fisticuffs in the first place? Two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. (I feel like adding "And now you know the rest of the story.")
Tickets range from $25-$75, and the show will be held at the outdoor stage. It begins at 8:00, and fireworks are also planned that evening. So before Louisville becomes music festival USA with July's Forecastle and HullabaLou extravaganzas, celebrating Independence Day with an American legend seems like the perfect prelude to a month full of good music.