Het is vandaag al vijftig jaar geleden dat de Amerikaanse saxofonist Curtis Ousley, beter gekend als King Curtis, in tragische omstandigheden om het leven kwam.
From the 1950s until the mid-1960s, he worked as a session player, recording under his own name and with others such as the Coasters, with whom he recorded “Yakety Yak.” Buddy Holly hired him for session work, during which they recorded “Reminiscing”. Holly wrote this song, but gave Curtis the songwriting credit for flying down to the session.
His best-known singles from this period are “Soul Twist” and “Soul Serenade.” He provided backing on a number of songs for LaVern Baker, including her 1958 hit single “I Cried a Tear”.
In 1965, he moved to Atlantic Records and recorded his most successful singles, “Memphis Soul Stew” and “Ode to Billie Joe” (1967). He led Aretha Franklin’s backing band The Kingpins (foto). The Kingpins opened for The Beatles during their 1965 performance at Shea Stadium.
During this period, he recorded the Joe South song “Games People Play” with guitarist Duane Allman.
In July 1971, Curtis recorded saxophone solos on “It’s So Hard” and “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier” from John Lennon’s album “Imagine”. Along with The Rimshots, he recorded the original theme song for the 1971 hit television show, Soul Train, titled “Hot Potatoes”.
Curtis was killed on August 13, 1971 when he was attempting to carry an air conditioner into his apartment. Drug dealer Juan Montanez refused to move from the entrance. A fight ensued and Montanez stabbed Curtis. In March 1972, Montanez was sentenced to seven years for second-degree manslaughter, but was released in late 1977 “for good behavior”.
On the day of Curtis’ funeral Jesse Jackson administered the service and as the mourners filed in, Curtis’ band The Kingpins played “Soul Serenade”. Aretha Franklin sang the closing spiritual “Never Grow Old” and Stevie Wonder performed “Abraham, Martin and John and now King Curtis”. (Wikipedia)