King Curtis and the Kingpins

Smooth guy King Curtis was a rhythm and blues tenor sax player whose music career commenced in the 1950's as a session man in New York City. Born Curtis Ousley, he defined his instrumental bebop soul sound under the moniker King Curtis while cutting his own singles and recording with a number of different musicians. In 1962, he had a number one R&B single called "Soul Twist." In 1967, Curtis began to take a more active studio role at Atlantic Records, leading and contracting sessions for other artists, as well as producing, both alone and with Jerry Wexler. While leading Aretha Franklin's backing band, the Kingpins, he concurrently compiled his singles into several albums. A testament to his virtuosity, he contributed on John Lennon's "Imagine." Sadly, in 1971, with his career rolling along at full steam, he was stabbed to death outside of his New York City apartment.

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