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The son of a navy pilot, King was born in San Diego. His father's position took the young King to Hawaii for a few years in his childhood, where he was introduced to the ukulele by his mother. Despite his early start in the ukulele, he initially showed no aptitude for the instrument, but quickly became a proficient guitar player, studying at one point with both Pepe Romero and his father Celedonio.
Upon learning that the ancestor of the modern guitar was tuned similarly to the ukulele, he reacquainted himself with the instrument, commissioning an Italian luthier to make a classical ukulele for him. With it, he revived a guitar-playing technique from the Baroque era: succeeding notes are played on different strings, allowing the previous note to continue ringing.
King's repertoire ranged widely, but he is particularly noted for his interpretation of Bach. In 2008, the Journal of the Society for American Music called King "perhaps the world's only true classical 'ukulele virtuoso'".
King recorded two records, and wrote several books of ukulele arrangements. He did extensive research into the history of classical guitar and the ukulele, writing numerous essays. He wrote an encyclopedia of Hawaiian ...