James King


Mr. James Elroy King the “Bluegrass Storyteller”, 57, of Salem, VA formerly of Cana, VA, passed away at Lewis Gale Hospital in Salem, VA on Thursday, May 19, 2016. Born to the late James “Jim” and Mozelle Faye Bonds King in Martinsville, VA on September 9, 1958. James grew up in a family of musicians, which influenced his interest in bluegrass music. After high school, James served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and then relocated to Wilmington, Del., where he started a band with Lundy’s sons, T.J. and Bobby. The Lundys introduced King to legendary bluegrass deejay Ray Davis, who paired King with Ralph Stanley for two mid-’80s releases, Stanley Brothers Classics and Reunion (also with George Shuffler), on his Wango label. In 1988, King released his first record under his own name, James King Sings Cold, Cold World. In the 1990s, Dudley Connell of the Johnson Mountain Boys brought King to the attention of Rounder’s Ken Irwin. Irwin brought together Connell and a band of bluegrass all-stars to back up King on 1994’s These Old Pictures and 1995’s Lonesome and Then Some. King began to tour steadily, gradually assembling the James King Band. The group was named emerging artists of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 1997. 1998’s “Bed by the Window” was the recording debut of the James King Band, and its gripping, bittersweet title track — about a man in a nursing home with a vivid imagination — was nominated for IBMA’s 1999 song of the year award. King is also a member of the bluegrass supergroup Longview, along with Connell, Don Rigsby, Joe Mullins, Glen Duncan and Marshall Wilborn. Their self-titled 1997 debut was named recorded event of the year by the IBMA. The second Longview album, High Lonesome, arrived in 1999, followed by Lessons in Stone in 2002. King released 30 Years of Farming in 2002. The album featured the James King Band as the supporting instrumentalists, with a potent blend of classic bluegrass, hard core country and contemporary song craft. Including the country classics “Saginaw, Michigan” and “Carroll Country Accident,” King released “The Bluegrass Storyteller” in 2005. In 2014, James was nominated for a Grammy. In 2015, James received the SPBGMA Masters Gold Award for Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year, for winning male vocalist of the year 10 times in a row. James is survived by his son, James Carter “Jamie” King; his girlfriend, Becky Rhodes and her children, Emily and David Gunter; brothers and sisters-in-law, Andy and Misty King, Jason and Leticia King; nieces and nephew, Jessa King, Brett King and Bayleigh Jones; a great niece Bristol Jones; many aunts, uncles and cousins. In addition to his parents, James was preceded in death by a daughter, Shelby King. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at Moody Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow in the King Family Cemetery in Cana, VA. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Monday evening from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM. Online condolences may be made at www.moodyfuneralservices.com.

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