We Just Called Him King

James KingJames King would have been 58 years old this past Friday. Unfortunately, The Bluegrass Storyteller only made it to 57, with his untimely death in May of this year.

That doesn’t mean James’ memory, spirit, stories, and music has left us, though. A tribute to James was conducted at the 50th Anniversary Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival in June, and in July at Alberta’s Blueberry Bluegrass Festival. A suite is dedicated to stories of the storyteller at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass on the morning of September 30th, and a benefit to pay for a headstone is in place for October 8th, in Cana, VA, James’ hometown and final resting place. Needless to say, James Elroy King has not been forgotten in the bluegrass world.

In the shadow of James’ 58th birthday, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys headed up to Buckaroo Studios to pay homage to their old boss and mentor. Tom Feller’s studio has been producing some fantastic projects since its opening, so there was no guesswork as to where to cut a new song for James.

Roscoe Morgan recording We Just Called Him King with the Po' Ramblin' Boys at Buckaroo Studio (9/11/16)The boys invited James’ first mandolin player, Roscoe Morgan, to join them behind the microphone on two numbers that were cut Sunday, September 11th. Roscoe was a part of Dealer’s Choice, James’ first festival bracket band. He told many good stories of traveling with the young King in the early ’80s, and also laid down the lead track for a very touching number.

The day of James’ death, Roscoe had finished his regular teaching curriculum in Maryville TN with a heavy heart, headed home, and a song came to him in roughly 15 minutes, a story song of the life of The Bluegrass Storyteller. That night he did a Facebook dedication to his old buddy, and sang We Just Called Him King for the first time. It was an instant hit with viewers.

Roscoe then took part in the tribute show at Bean Blossom and sang the song, once again, leaving the crowd speechless and tear filled, receiving a standing ovation for his touching composition. This is the song that Roscoe sang, on Sunday, ‘Boys backing him. It should be released sometime before the end of the year, as a single for airplay. We won’t go into too much detail, for the song speaks for itself, and we don’t wanna spoil any surprises, but be looking and listening for it in the next few months.

The second song recorded is also a song James King made famous, sung by The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys with Roscoe jumpin’ in on some high baritone. It’s a nice little honor for the man that felt every word he sang and lived the music he played. Rest easy James. We think of you often.

“…..and the rest of us, we just called him King.”

Share this:

About the Author

C J Lewandowski

A native Missouri boy, CJ Lewandowski grew up under the wing of the 1st generation Missouri Bluegrass musicians. Learning from men 50 years his senior, he developed a passion and love for Traditional Bluegrass in its rawest forms. CJ has traveled and play with The Warrior River Boys, Karl Shiflett, James King and now heads up Randm Record Recording Artists, The Po' Ramblin' Boys. CJ proudly endorses Pointer Brand Work wear of Bristol TN and makes his home in Hopeless Holler TN. He is becoming well known for his traditional based "Ozark Mandolin Style" and his preservation of the old music.