Repost: James King interview from 2014

 James King at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival (August 2014) - photo by Frank BakerGiven last week’s loss of the great James King, it seems fitting to repost this interview we did with him during the 2014 World of Bluegrass convention in Raleigh, NC. Funeral services for King are being held today at 2:00 p.m.

At the time of this interview, James was in recovery from a number of health emergencies that started in May of ’14. He had to be diverted to a hospital in Branson, MO while heading in to town to perform at the Bluegrass & BBQ festival at Silver Dollar City. Following that surgery, doctors began to uncover additional problems leading to an ultimate realization that a liver transplant would be needed at some point.

After a few minutes of chit chat about the health scare, James delves into his profound love for bluegrass music, the people who make it, and all the folks who cherish it as he does. King was a truly remarkable man. Not only a splendid vocalist, but a warm, kind-hearted, and compassionate person all the way around.

He will be deeply missed.


We would also like to repeat a call from last year, where C.J. Lewandowski, a former James King Band mandolinist and friend to James, requested that anyone with stories, information, or photos of King onstage might contact him. Lewandowski is hoping to put together a biography of The Bluegrass Storyteller, and would like to collect any and all King lore that he can.

A table will be set up during this year’s 50th Annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival at Bean Blossom where folks can come and share their stories, or bring them along to drop off in written form. Donations will also be accepted there to help retire James’ debts, and pay for an appropriate headstone. CDs and t-shirts will also be offered for sale for that purpose.

Bean Blossom will also hold a special James King Tribute Show during the festival on Saturday, June 18. It will be hosted by C.J. and Chris Hill, and all former members of the James King Band are invited to take part. Any past members are invited to contact C.J. for more details (540-230-6276 or Facebook).

Plans are also underway to hold ‘Mater Sandwich Time again in his honor during Bean Blossom. For years, James would invite everyone to join him for an old fashioned ‘mater sandwich (one slice of ripe tomato, one slice of onion, and his beloved Duke’s mayonaisse on white bread) during the festival. This year it will serve as another get together in his honor, so bring your tomatoes and onions.


And don’t forget that a GoFundMe page is set up to accept donations as well.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.