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ALABAMA - Willie King, renowned Alabama blues singer and guitarist, died on Sunday in Old Memphis, Alabama.
King, 65, died suddenly of a heart attack, said Rick Asherson, who had been playing keyboards with him for several years.
With a voice reminiscent at times of Howlin' Wolf and a style similar to John Lee Hooker's, King appeared at blues festivals in the US and abroad. He first came to prominence outside Alabama with his critically acclaimed 2001 CD, Freedom Creek.
He brought an understanding of history and contemporary subject matter to songs like Second Coming, which invoked John Brown and the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Junior.
Willie once described his type of blues, which deal with things a lot of blues don't deal with, as "struggling blue". He meant struggling with the injustices in life in the rural South.
King visited schools to demonstrate the blues on his guitar. He felt a deep responsibility to make the younger generation more aware of their musical history.
He started the Freedom Creek Festival in 1997 on his farm on Freedom Creek in Pickens County, Alabama, near the Mississippi state line.
Since then, it has attracted top blues musicians and bands. It is scheduled for May 29 and 30. Asherson said there were hopes of keeping the festival going as a memorial to King.