When it comes to influential guitarists who have left an indelible mark on music history, one name stands out: Albert King. Born Albert Nelson on April 25, 1923, in Indianola, Mississippi, Albert King’s distinct style and unparalleled talent propelled him to become one of the most influential figures in the world of guitar music.

Related: Join us all month long as we celebrate our Guitar Heroes & Legends! Check in daily for new free lessons, insight, inspiration, and much more.

The Birth of a Legend

Albert King’s musical journey began at an early age, inspired by the rich blues traditions of the Mississippi Delta. He grew up listening to and playing gospel music, honing his skills on a homemade cigar box guitar. As a left-handed musician, King played a right-handed guitar upside down, which contributed to his unique sound and technique.

The Signature Sound

What truly set Albert King apart was his innovative use of the electric guitar. He employed thick, heavy strings, often tuned to an open E or open F sharp, and played with a distinctive vibrato and bending style. King’s emotive and soulful playing, combined with his powerful voice, allowed him to convey a depth of emotion that resonated with audiences.

Influence on Guitarists

Albert King’s influence on subsequent generations of guitarists cannot be overstated. His impact can be heard in the playing of numerous renowned musicians across various genres. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Gary Moore all acknowledged Albert King as a major influence on their playing.

Jimi Hendrix, in particular, idolized King’s guitar prowess and once famously said, “I learned everything I know about guitar from Albert King.” This sentiment is echoed by many guitarists who were captivated by King’s raw, expressive playing style and his ability to extract every ounce of emotion from the instrument.

Notable Albert King Discography

Albert King’s discography is a testament to his enduring influence and talent. He released several influential albums during his career, including “Born Under a Bad Sign” (1967), which is considered one of the greatest blues albums of all time. The title track, along with songs like “Crosscut Saw” and “Oh, Pretty Woman,” have become iconic blues standards.

King’s impact was recognized by the music industry, earning him a place in the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He received numerous accolades throughout his career, including a Grammy Award for his album “Blues at Sunrise” (1969).

A Lasting Legacy

Albert King’s impact on guitar music history is immeasurable. His soulful playing, distinct sound, and emotional depth continue to inspire guitarists around the world. Through his music, he transcended boundaries and brought the blues to a wider audience.

Even though Albert King passed away on December 21, 1992, his legacy lives on. His influence can be heard in the music of contemporary blues guitarists, ensuring that his unique style and contribution to guitar music will never be forgotten.

As we reflect on the great guitarists who have shaped music history, Albert King’s name will always hold a special place. His music continues to resonate with listeners, reminding us of the timeless power of the blues and the incredible talent of one of its greatest champions.

Thank you, Albert King, for your extraordinary contributions to guitar music history. Your legacy will forever inspire generations of musicians to come.

Albert King Guitar Lesson