Soul Serenade: King Curtis and His Immortal Saxophone (North Texas Lives of Musician Series #17) (Hardcover)
Although in 2000 he became the first sideman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “King Curtis” Ousley never lived to accept his award. Tragically, he was murdered outside his New York City home in 1971. At that moment, thirty-seven-year-old King Curtis was widely regarded as the greatest R & B saxophone player of all time. He also may have been the most prolific, having recorded with well over two hundred artists during an eighteen-year span.
Soul Serenade is the definitive biography of one of the most influential musicians of the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. Timothy R. Hoover chronicles King Curtis’s meteoric rise from a humble Texas farm to the recording studios of Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and New York City as well as to some of the world’s greatest music stages, including the Apollo Theatre, Fillmore West, and Montreux Jazz Festival. Curtis’s “chicken-scratch” solos on the Coasters’ Yakety Yak changed the role of the saxophone in rock & roll forever. His band opened for the Beatles at their famous Shea Stadium concert in 1965. He also backed his “little sister” and close friend Aretha Franklin on nearly all of her tours and Atlantic Records productions from 1967 until his death.
Soul Serenade is the result of more than twenty years of interviews and research. It is the most comprehensive exploration of Curtis’s complex personality: his contagious sense of humor and endearing southern elegance as well as his love for gambling and his sometimes aggressive temperament. Hoover explores Curtis’s vibrant relationships and music-making with the likes of Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, Isaac Hayes, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Sam Moore, Donny Hathaway, and Duane Allman, among many others.
TIMOTHY R. HOOVER is an avid music lover who has spent more than twenty years researching and writing about the life of King Curtis. A freelance writer for Hittin’ the Note magazine, he lives outside Wheatland, Wyoming, with his wife.
“Soul Serenade is an engrossing read and should be of great interest to all fans of American vernacular music and in particular to fans of R & B, soul, and rock, from casual to rabid. Hoover appears to have talked to all the key figures in King Curtis’s personal and professional lives, creating a well-rounded portrait of the man and the musician. He also does a good job of putting King Curtis in the context of his times and he gives the narrative a strong momentum, signaling along the way the presence of the traits that led to King Curtis’s tragic early death.”—Nick Cristiano, music critic for the Philadelphia Enquirer
“With a magnetic personality and unparalleled talent for jazz, soul, rhythm & blues, pop, and rock ’n’ roll, sax player and producer King Curtis worked with and influenced a who’s who of the music world from the 1950s to the ’70s, with the apex of his career as the musical director and band leader for Aretha Franklin. In his thoroughly engaging Soul Serenade, Tim Hoover brings the story of King Curtis to life, from his beginnings in Texas—where he went to high school with Ornette Coleman—to his work with the likes of Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Donny Hathaway, and Duane Allman, and with previously unrevealed details of his shocking murder in New York City in 1971. Hoover has spent twenty years on his book on the sax great—and the results are worth the wait. With meticulous research, he hits the right notes in showing how Curtis was larger than life.”—Billy Heller, music and pop culture journalist