Bio

Edward Memphis Antoine was born in Rayne, Louisiana, into a cajun French speaking family with talented siblings and cousins. With the help of those cousins he teaches himself to play the guitar and earns the name “Blues Picking King.” With Clifton Chenier, his cousin of blues and zydeco fame, he learns Cajun music and, soon enough, young Edward becomes the rhythm guitar player for Clifton’s band.

In 1960 he moves to Portland, Oregon, where he plays in a jazz band for a year before deciding to move to Chicago to pursue blues music with his brother Nolan Struck.

 

The Chicago years

Once in the Windy City, where he will live for 15 years, King meets the great McKinley Mitchell who hires him on the spot to be his guitar player. King gets to perform at the Regal Theater and to meet Willie Dixon. He also plays on a regular basis at the Checkerboard Lounge with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, and at Theresa’s Lounge where he sits in with Muddy Waters.

King and McKinley later go on the road playing theater gigs, leading King to open for Tyrone Davis, Little Milton and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. He also tours and plays with his brother Nolan.

 

The Jackson years

King Edward - The  Subway

King Edward – The Subway

King moves to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975, following McKinley, who has relatives there. McKinley begins working for Malaco Records and asks King to play guitar for him on several records. Both musicians are also touring together. In 1978 King decides to sign and record his first solo album, Genuine Mississippi Blues with Ace Records and Johnny Vincent, along with notables Sam Myers and Big Bad Smitty.

His first break into the Jackson club scene is at the Queen of Hearts, still operated by Chellie B. Lewis. King also performs at Richard’s Playhouse on Farish Street, sometimes even plays both clubs on the same night. He later becomes a fixture at Jimmy King’s famous Subway Lounge where he plays ten years.

 

Around Mississippi, and further

Bobby Rush, King Edward

Bobby Rush, King Edward

King has become a legend in Mississippi, playing festivals and venues across the state, such as in Ocean Springs, Rolling Fork or Clarksdale, but also further – St. Louis, Missouri, Davenport, Iowa, and twice at the internationally acclaimed Chicago Blues Festival.

He is a member of the Central Mississippi Blues Society – he plays every week at the Society’s Blue Monday, hosted by Hal & Mal’s – and the International Blues Foundation. He is also a regular at the Queen of Hearts and at Underground 119.

King regularly participates in Blues in the Schools programs,  talking to kids about staying in school and teaching them about Mississippi’s music heritage, and also in Blues Symposiums for adults.

He is part of the Mississippi Artist Roster.

 

Recognition

MAG Last of Mississippi JukesKing is featured in Robert Mugge’s Last of the Mississippi Jukes, a documentary filmed at the Subway Lounge. He also appears on the 2010 Mississippi Celebrates Its Grammy Legacy, along with Bobby Rush, Eddie Cotton and Zac Harmon. More recently, King participated in the 2012 Blessissippi concert hosted by Morgan Freeman at Ground Zero, in Clarksdale.

King has received a Peavey Award for his contribution to Mississippi music.

And he is honored on three blues markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail, all three of them in Jackson – Subway Lounge, Queen of Hearts and Ace Records.

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