Al King Biography

Alvin K. Smith, 7 August 1923, Monroe, Louisiana, USA, d. 22 January 1999 Anything other than church music was forbidden in the Smith household, so it was not until Alvin Smith sang with USO bands while serving in the World War II that he discovered his taste for the musical life. Moving to San Francisco and then Los Angeles, he made his recording debut, ‘Homesick Blues’, for Recorded In Hollywood in 1951. Two years later he led the Savoys, who recorded ‘Chop Chop Boom’ with saxophonist Jack McVea for Combo. Returning north to Oakland, he recorded ‘On My Way’ for Music City, on which he was accompanied by the guitarist Johnny Heartsman, and then joined Jimmy McCracklin’s touring band, which led to two singles on which he was teamed with a female singer (their records were released under the collective name of Al And Nettie). One of the singles, ‘Now You Know’, was an answer record to McCracklin’s ‘Just Got To Know’. In 1964, now calling himself Al King, he made ‘Reconsider Baby’, the record most closely associated with his name. Recorded for Triad and later leased to the Atlantic subsidiary Shirley, it remains one of the best versions of Lowell Fulson’s composition, not least for Heartsman’s contribution. King made further records for Flag, Sahara, Modern and Kent during the 60s and a final session for Ronn in 1970, but failed to repeat the successful formula. He returned three decades later with two new albums, Blues Master and It’s Rough Out Here backed by the Sugarbees. Although he sang well, the return was marred by poor material.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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