American Routes Shortcuts: Little Freddie King

Mar 23, 2018

Little Freddie King
Credit American Routes

Bluesman Little Freddie King hopped on a train from McComb, Mississippi, to New Orleans as a youth in the early 1950s. Over the years, he’s developed his own electric country-blues style. Life hasn’t always been easy for Freddie but he says he’s blessed with at least nine lives. 

He has survived jumping from hi-speed boxcars, the floods of Hurricane Katrina, bouts with alcohol poisoning, and a shootout with a jealous wife—they later reconciled. Freddie attributes his survival to love of God … and the blues. At age 77, he recently had a serious bicycle accident and flipped over the handlebars. Freddie tells the story of his injury and recovery.

Little Freddie King: I left out of here at 6:30, just the break of dawn, you know, still dark a little bit. So I took out down there to go get my orange juice and cigarettes on my two-wheel Cadillac.

Nick Spitzer: Two-wheel Cadillac is a bicycle.

LFK: My bicycle, right. And so also some fool was working on a house down there, had a lot of old lumber tied together with wire and he put it on top of this garbage can, and I didn’t see it. So when I hit that, it flipped me. And so I slid, and my head went down in this hole- bam! And when it did that, it popped my discs out of place and pinched my spine. There I was lying there in the middle of the street, and I couldn’t move either arm at all.  I was paralyzed right then. The way I was injured and hurt, I didn’t think I would ever be able to move my hands and fingers anymore.

NS: Do you feel that music has helped you recover from your accident?

LFK: Yes indeed, the feeling and the thrill and the soul of the music, it definitely made the body mend. When I get to playing, I feel no pain at all. I feel good.

Now see, the blues is not really the devil’s music; it’s how you use it. It actually is telling a story and the bad part that you had been through with, and when you’re telling that story, that’s not a sin. That’s a talent and a job that God gave us to do. 

NS: What’s your hope for your own work as a musician and with blues, as far as what you can do for people that listen to you?

LFK: I’d love for them to feel the spirit and the soul and the rhythm of the blues from the heart. See like they’d be in there and they enjoy and they feel it, and when it hit them, they have like goose pimples come on them, like chills and stuff like that, and that’s the real feeling from the heart of the music.

NS: Well you plan to live a little bit longer and keep playing the blues?

LFK: That’s right, gonna live a while longer and keep playing the blues, the good old medicine blues. The blues is better than any doctor’s medicine.

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