Sounds Visual Radio
Sounds Visual Radio
Episode 123: King Errisson

Percussionist King Errisson was born on October 29, 1941 in Nassau, Bahamas–where Afro Caribbean rhythms, goatskin drums, and Junkanoo are a prominent feature of the cultural landscape.  It was only natural that the young Errisson would begin playing the bongos at a very early age, and began playing professional gigs by the time he was 13 years old.  He also worked as a jockey until he was 19 years old when he was offered the opportunity to perform at a night club in Boston.  He returned to the Bahamas and teamed up with a limbo dancer and continued to perform on a regular basis.

King received his first “big break” at the age of 23 when his talent with the congas was prominently displayed in a memorable night club scene in the James Bond movie, “Thunderball.” He left Nassau for drama studies in Canada, formed a jazz band in New York City, and spent a year performing in a Bermuda club where he met Redd Foxx who invited King to appear at his place in Los Angeles. Sammy Davis Jr. asked King to appear on the Hollywood Palace, and Cannonball Adderley became his mentor in the recording studio.

As a session musician, King has worked with a very diverse group of artists representing a wide variety of musical styles. King has been praised as “the unsung hero behind Motown” by Ray Singleton in her book Berry, Me, and Motown as well as by Berry Gordy in his book To Be Loved for his work with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, the Jackson Five, and many others. He has also worked with Herb Alpert, John Klemmer, Doc Severinsen, Ringo Starr, Blood Sweat & Tears, Jim Stafford, Swamp Dogg, Barbra Streisand, David Cassidy, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Mathis, OC Smith, Lou Rawls, Hodges James and Smith, Mickey Stevenson, Barry White and The Carpenters. He was a featured member of the Incredible Bongo Band (sampled over 800 times) and has been a member of Neil Diamond’s touring band since 1976.

As a solo artist and composer, King’s early albums are prized by crate diggers and breakbeat hounds. As an actor, King has appeared in the movies Uptown Saturday Night (with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier) and on television in Abe Vigoda’s Fish series and The Watcher, and the 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond.

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