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John King Obituary

John King, classical ukulele master, is dead

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John King is dead

  • Oct 20, 2009
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Some of you may recall the review I wrote some time ago praising the wonderful CD of Bach played on unaccompanied ukulele.  The ukulele master of that CD was John King.  I learned yesterday that John King died in April 2009 of a heart attack at his home.  He was only 65.  Mr King was not only a wonderful ukulele player and classical guitarist, he was also a historian of both Hawaiian music and the ukulele.  In addition to his music, he wrote several books on the history of Hawaii, Hawaiian music and the derivation of the ukulele.  He also recorded another CD of traditional Hawaiian music for solo ukulele.  Both CDs are available at cdbaby.com for $15 each or on Amazon for $19.95 each.  In either case, the music on both CDs is so good that either price is worth it.

John King, your music will live on far longer than you did.  You will be missed by everyone who loved great music

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October 21, 2009
If you want to hear John King, go do youtube.com and enter John King ukulele. There are many other John Kings on youtube so you need to enter ukulele as well. There are 4 or 5 small performances of his music, including a solo performance of Carol of the Bells. Great stuff!!!
About the reviewer
John O'Connor ()
Ranked #85
I am retired military. I served 6 years of Navy, nearly 6 years of Air Force, and just over 22 years of Air National Guard. I also was a full time technician for the Air Guard for just over 21 years. … more
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Early life and education

The son of a navy pilot,[2] 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.

King attended Old Dominion University and later took a post as a guitar teacher at Eckerd College—where he taught for 30 years[2]—in St. Petersburg, a city that became his home for life.

[edit] Ukulele revolution

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'".[3]

[edit] Works

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 ...

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