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Pianist-composer-publisher Bill King is a multi-talented individual whose recording and production credits include ‘Live! In Session’ by Liberty Silver; ‘Magnolia Nights, Moment’s Notice’ by Bill King and the Jazz Report All-Stars, ‘From The Heart’ a tribute to piano great Oscar Peterson, ‘East Side Symphony, The Night Passage Years’ and most recently Bill King’s Saturday Nite Fish Fry “Jump Shout Rock da House,” The Rockit 88 Band’s “Too Much Fun” and the King.Alleyne.Roth Trio’s “It Might As Well Be Spring.”. These projects highlight King’s versatility as both a keyboardist and composer.
Born in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1946, King spent his youth studying with W.C. Handy’s former pianist Eva Smith, the Louisville Academy of music’s Don Murray and Indiana University saxophonist-educator Jamey Aebersold. By the early ‘60’s, he had won 16 first place awards in classical piano and clarinet competitions and a scholarship to Oscar Peterson’s Advanced School of Contemporary music-- attending in 63.
King started his career performing with local community orchestras and big bands. In1966, he and his band The Chateaus had their first Billboard Top 50 hit with jazz pianist’s Bobby Timmons gospel romp, Moanin’. This success led to working with many of the stars of the day--The Shangrilas, Dick and Dee Dee, Freddy Cannon, The Dovells, Ronnie Dove, opening for the Beaches Boys on three occasions, and work with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars.
By 1968, King had moved from Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan where he held the position as house pianist at Louie Jordan’s to Los Angeles to become music director and pianist for Linda Ronstadt. A year later, he joined Janis Joplin’s band in the same capacity. In 1969, King moved to Toronto and signed a recording contract with Capitol Records. Over the next couple years he released two albums as a leader---Goodbye Superdad in 1970 and Dixie Peach in 1972.
King returned to Los Angeles in 1976 as music director for vocalist Martha Reeves. After accompanying her on a European tour, he joined The Pointer Sisters and spent the next year touring Japan and the U.S. with them. Recording dates with The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Lakeside, John Handy, Sonny Criss and a tour with John Klemmer ( V.S.O.P). featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard and Ron Carter) followed .
King returned to Toronto in the late ‘70s to form the rock group China and record one self-titled album for Epic/CBS. By 1984 after a year-long stint with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, King opened his first independent jazz label Night Passage Records. Over the next four years King recorded (Ice, Avenue B and City of Dreams) followed by one release on Gaia Records---Magnolia Nights. Avenue B was Nominated for Best Jazz Recording at the Junos.
During the mid-eighties, King began a career as a jazz broadcaster first at Q-107 in 1985 and Q-Jazz and then creating the Jazz Report Radio Network extending from 1986- 1991. In 1987 he established a equally rewarding career as a publisher and record company president. In 1987, he and partner Greg Sutherland founded The Jazz Report Magazine which began as an eight-page newsletter and quickly evolved into a four-color magazine distributed world-wide. The pair went on to open a new record label Radioland in 1992 and a year later signed a major manufacturing and distribution deal with Verve/Polygram Canada.
King has also been a driving force in the success of the Beaches International Jazz Festival since it’s inception in 1988. His duties as artistic director and emcee bring him in contact with some of the finest talent worldwide. Recently, King added artistic duties for the Toronto International BBQ & Blues Festival to his portfolio.