NPR derided the nomination of this lesser-known Chicago blues man as a case of “we’re running out of past,” but Albert King was no also-ran. (And given the choice between him and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the hall apparently preferred an original to a derivative.) King hovered between Chi-town and St. Louis for several years honing his craft and developing his reputation — born Albert Nelson, he came to richly deserve the King moniker. As the ’60s wound to a close, King entered a fruitful phase with the Stax record label in Memphis and found himself sought after by a generation of white musicians raised on his and others’ blues recordings; he crucially influenced Eric Clapton during his Cream days and performed live with the Doors. Crossover success eluded him; crossover respect did not.
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