Growing up in East Texas

freddie and his brother Benny

Freddie was born in Gilmer Texas on September 3 1934 with the given name of Freddy King to Ella May King and J.T. Christian. My father's mother told him that her grandfather ( who was a full-blooded Choctaw Indian) prophesied to her that she would have a child that will stir the souls of millions and inspire and influence generations. My grandmother and her brother Leon played the guitar. Freddie's mother recognized early her first born interest in music. She and her brother Leon began teaching him to play rural country blues at the age of six. His early music heroes were Sam Lightnin Hopkins (who he credits his proficiency of the down home thumb-finger picken style) and Louis Jordan (the jump blues saxophonist). He told me that he would play Jordan's record over and over again until he could match his horn, note for note. This discipline would have a major impact on his phrasing.

His first guitar was a silvertone acoustic. His most prized guitar at that time was his Roy Roger acoustic. In a interview years later he recalled going to the general store to order it. The store owner asked him if his mother knew he was trying to order a guitar on her store account. Freddie replied " no". The store owner told him to get permission. His mother said "no". She told him, "if you want a new guitar you will have to work for it." He stated that he picked cotton just long enough to earn the money to purchase a Roger's guitar.

By 1949 two of Freddie's uncles, Felix and Willie King had already moved to Chicago. They were earning good money working in the steel mill. Ella now married to Ben Turner saw opportunity for her family in Chicago. Freddie's father J.T. didn't want Freddie to go to Chicago, He wanted Freddie to finish high school and go to college in Texas like some of his family. J.T.'s sister Melissa was a teacher at the local black school. Ella and J.T. agreed to let Freddie finish high school. The family left for Chicago in the fall of 1949.

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