Little Jimmy King

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Little Jimmy King
Birth nameEmmanuel Lynn Gales
Born(1964-12-04)December 4, 1964
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
DiedJuly 19, 2002(2002-07-19) (aged 37)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
GenresMemphis blues, electric blues, soul blues[1]
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1980s–2002
LabelsBullseye Blues, King James
Associated actsAlbert King, Eric Gales, Eugene Gales

Emmanuel Lynn Gales (December 4, 1964 – July 19, 2002[2]), known professionally as Little Jimmy King, was an American Memphis blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.[1] A left-handed guitarist who played the instrument upside down, he concocted his stage name in deference to his two musical heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Albert King.[1][3]

He is best known for his tracks "Win, Lose or Draw" and "Upside Down and Backwards". He was the frontman of Little Jimmy King & the Memphis Soul Survivors. He also worked with Albert King and with his brothers Eric and Eugene Gales.[4]


Gales was born in Memphis, Tennessee.[4] At the age of six, and along with his twin brother Daniel, Jimmy received an acoustic guitar. Naturally left-handed, he learned to play with the guitar upside down, and in his early teens graduated to an electric model.[5] He started his musical career playing rock and roll, but in the 1980s he switched to playing the blues.[1] Nevertheless, as was later noted, King often merged both genres in his playing.[5][6] He joined Albert King's backing band in 1988, and the twosome formed such a friendship that Albert referred to Little Jimmy as his "adopted" grandson.[3] At the end of this period, the latter formally changed his name to King.[5]

After leaving Albert King's band, Little Jimmy King formed his own ensemble, called Little Jimmy King & the Memphis Soul Survivors, and released his debut album in 1991 on the Bullseye Blues label.[7] The Allmusic journalist Thom Owens described the disc as "an exciting, promising debut".[6] In 1993, King had a small cameo role in the film The Firm, playing a street musician on Beale Street, in Memphis.[8]

King's next album was Something Inside of Me (1994). It was produced by Ron Levy.[9] On the recording King used various musicians, billed as the King James Version Band, and also utilised Tommy Shannon (bass guitar) and Chris Layton (drums), who were formerly part of Stevie Ray Vaughan's backing ensemble, Double Trouble.[1][5] One music journalist noted that the album was "caught between traditional blues and its rock equivalent" and that King was an "uneasy amalgam of both disparate elements, which he struggled to mould into a recognizably individual sound".[5] In 1995, King recorded with his brothers, Eric and Eugene Gales. The resultant album, Left Hand Brand, released on the House of Blues label, was billed as by the Gales Brothers .[1][10] In addition, King played guitar on Ann Peebles's 1992 album, Full Time Love. He also backed Otis Clay on his albums I'll Treat You Right and On My Way Home.[1]

In 1997, Willie Mitchell produced King's third Bullseye Blues release, Soldier for the Blues.[5] Cub Koda noted that the collection had a "more pronounced soul blues feeling than his two previous efforts".[11] In September 2000, at Bobby Bland's receiving of the Blues Ball Pyramid Award, King played at the benefit tribute event.[12]

King died on July 19, 2002, in Memphis, after suffering a heart attack.[4]


Year Title Record label
1991 Little Jimmy King & the Memphis Soul Survivors Bullseye Blues
1994 Something Inside of Me Bullseye Blues
1997 Soldier for the Blues Bullseye Blues
2008 Live at B.B. King's, LA King James Records


with Ann Peebles
Year Title Record label
1992 Full Time Love Bullseye Blues
with Otis Clay
Year Title Record label
1992 I'll Treat You Right Bullseye Blues
1993 On My Way Home Bullseye Blues
with The Gales Brothers
Year Title Record label
1996 Left Hand Brand House of Blues

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Richard Skelly. "Little Jimmy King | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  2. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 251. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  3. ^ a b Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins (5th ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-7864-4373-4.
  4. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2002 July to December". Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Larkin, Colin. "Little Jimmy King Biography". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Little Jimmy King & the Memphis Soul Survivors > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  7. ^ Santelli, Robert (2001). The Big Book of Blues: A Biographical Encyclopedia. London, England: Penguin Books. pp. 277–8. ISBN 0-14-100145-3.
  8. ^ "Little Jimmy King". Filmography. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  9. ^ "Something Inside of Me > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  10. ^ "Left Hand Brand > The Gales Brothers > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  11. ^ "Soldier for the Blues > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  12. ^ Farley, Charles (2011). Soul of the Man: Bobby "Blue" Bland. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 241. ISBN 978-1-60473-919-0.
  13. ^ "Little Jimmy King | Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-27.