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Jackie King

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Jazz guitarist Jackie King was born in Texas; the son of a musician, he learned to play the mandolin at age eight, switching to six-string a year later. Initially inspired by country music, he later absorbed the jazz influences of guitar greats like Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, and at age 12, began performing professionally. Befriended by the likes of Willie Nelson and Doug Sahm, King also backed visiting acts including Big Joe Turner, George Jones, and Roger Miller before touring the nation as a member of the Billy Gray Band. During the late '60s, he relocated to San Francisco, teaming with saxophonist Martin Fierro to form the jazz-fusion band Shades of Joy. The group recorded two LPs before disbanding, with King subsequently backing jazz acts including Sonny Stitt and Chet Baker; he also became a session player at Mercury, appearing on albums from Merl Saunders and others. He made his solo debut with the 1977 album Skylight, later teaching at Los Angeles' Guitar Institute of Technology; the experience inspired King to open his own Southwest Guitar Conservatory in San Antonio, running the operation for seven years. Angel Eyes, a collection of duets with Willie Nelson, appeared in 1984, followed by the solo Nightbird. In subsequent years, King worked with the "Tejano jazz" band the West Side Horns and also hosted the syndicated radio series Jazz from the Wine Country. His album Moon Magic was released in 1999; Gypsy followed in spring 2001. ~ Jason Ankeny

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