Little Freddie King

Little Freddie King reigns as the blues monarch of New Orleans, the last of the gutbucket guitar bluesmen, an iconoclastic figure who draws a direct line from the deep country juke joints to today’s modern audiences. An inductee in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, King’s unique style and deep history delight blues fans across the globe.

Little Freddie King was born Fread Martin in 1940 in the southern Mississippi town of McComb, which recently honored him with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Music ran in the family; his dad was a guitarist and Lightnin’ Hopkins was a cousin.

When he was 14, he hopped a train to New Orleans, and began learning guitar from bluesmen like Babe Stovall, Slim Harpo, Champion Jack Dupree, Polka Dot Slim, and Boogie Bill Webb. He is self-taught; he played 45 rpm blues records at 33 1/3 rpm to learn the notes one at a time.

He cut his chops at notorious joints like the Bucket of Blood, dodging bullets and blades while shouting the blues. He gigged with John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, and Freddie King, and sounded so much like the latter that he acquired the moniker “Little Freddie King.”

But his career lagged, and for decades King held down a variety of day jobs while gigging part time, including a monthly set at BJ’s Lounge in the Ninth Ward. His career took off in the 1990s when he connected with drummer/manager “Wacko” Wade Wright, and established a solid band that also includes Robert Louis diTullio, Jr. on harp and a rotating cast of all-star bassists. He’s released a series of well-received albums, toured extensively, gained a rabid following in Europe, and won a slew of awards, including a Mississippi Blues Trail marker and induction into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Cameras love Little Freddie King’s wise bluesman’s stature and sharp, colorful suits. He’s featured in Beyonce’s “Lemonade” video and in ad campaigns for Levi’s, British Airways, and Nikon. He also stars in the 2015 documentary, “I Am the Blues.”

King continues to tour around the world and hold down regular gigs in New Orleans. He’s played nearly every New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Blues and BBQ Festival, and French Quarter Festival. His most recent albums are the 2020 “Jaw Jackin’ Blues” and the 2022 “Blues Medicine.”


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