Autographs at a Festival -- The Ed King Tribute, featuring Robby Kreiger and Eric Burden

About 30 years ago, San Diego had its first “Street Scene” which were these cool festivals they had going for about 25 years. They ended up getting a lot more contemporary bands (ie hip-hop and alternative), but the first one had a lot of groups I loved. And I was determined to get some autographs. Robby Kreiger of The Doors, was playing with keyboardist Brian Auger. I had gotten Kreiger a few years earlier, and didn’t want to lug around any albums. I had instead ripped out two photos from a Doors coffee table book. Since the stages were set up all over downtown San Diego, and this wasn’t a normal concert venue, I figured it should be easy to slip into areas where I’d see the artist and get signatures. And I was right. I went through a few trailers that were set up in a weird location, walked around the corner, and Kreiger was standing there talking to a sound guy. I had him sign my two pictures (I ended up giving one, years later, to a girlfriend living in Germany that was a huge Doors fan). The second autograph I got was Eric Burdon of The Animals. I’m a huge fan, and had also gotten him before. When I was going to SDSU, I was waiting outside a club, and one of my professors saw me. We started talking, got invited onto Burdon’s bus with about 10 other autograph collectors. Burden was signing everything for us, talking music, and his tour manager came onboard screaming at us. He demanded we all get off the bus. He said, “Unless it’s women that are going to screw us, we don’t want you here!”

Ah, the life of a rock star.

Burdon was in a bit of a hurry at the Street Scene, but quickly scribbled a messy signature on a cassette I had of The Animals (remember cassettes? Nothing worse for getting a signature on, they’re so damn small). I also had his drummer sign, who told me, “You know, I wasn’t on this record. I was never an ‘Animal’.” I replied, “I know, but...you were so damn good, I want your autograph anyway.” He reminded me of Keith Moon, and I was sure he’d rise to stardom (I can’t even remember his name now).

The last autograph I got that day was from Ed King, who I just found out died, at age 68. I didn’t know who he was at the time. But, the Strawberry Alarm Clock (Incense and Peppermints and Tomorrow were their big ‘60s hits) was playing at one of the smaller stages. I didn’t have anything for them to sign, but my friend Myrna is an artist. She had a sketch pad with her, with colored pencils. She quickly drew an alarm clock, with a strawberry coming out of the top part of it. It was awesome. It looked like it could’ve been a psychedelic album cover from back in the day. The band came over and signed the drawing, praising how cool it was and asking about the artist. Myrna smiled shyly as I pointed to her.

The guitarist was named Ed King, and he couldn’t have been nicer. We started talking about music, and his bandmember said, “You know, he was in Lynyrd Skynyrd, too.”

That blew me away. How many people have been in a band that was a one-hit wonder, and could find success again? Turns out, he co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama.”

He was in Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975, and again from 1987 to 1996. His heart problems lead to him not continuing with them. Apparently, Skynyrd had opened for SAC in the late ‘60s, and when their bassist left, he joined, but eventually moved over to guitar when that bassist (Leon Wilkeson) rejoined the group. King co-wrote the SAC hit (although he never got credit), and co-wrote some cool Skynyrd tracks, including “Saturday Night Special,” “Swamp Music,” “Whiskey Rock-a-Roller” “Poison Whiskey” and “Working for MCA.”

Most people wouldn’t consider leaving a band that was successful, but it’s a move that saved his life in a few ways. He was having heart problems, and...the guitarist that replaced him (Steve Gaines) died in the plane crash that killed many members of the band (including singer Ronnie Van Zant).

King did rejoin the band in the mid-80s, but after 10 years, his congestive heart failure made it too much. So, when I saw Skynyrd on their farewell tour about 4 months ago, he wasn’t there.

The last thing King did was appear in 2017 on an episode of “Moonshiners.” Fitting for the guy who wrote a few songs about booze.

He had been battling cancer for the last few months, and died at his home in Nashville yesterday. I’m gonna down a shot of whiskey in honor of this Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer, who took the time to talk me and Myrna 30 years ago (unfortunately, she’s now been battling cancer for a few years now and isn’t doing so well).

Views: 212

Tags: Brian Auger, Ed King, Eric Burdon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Robby Kreiger, Ronnie Van Zant, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Animals

Comment by Joe W. on August 23, 2018 at 12:39pm

I am also a huge fan of Burdon. Vastly overlooked, imo. Well deserved RnR Hall of Famer!

Comment by Josh Board on August 23, 2018 at 6:19pm

I'm a huge Burdon fan. I've seen him live soooo many times. He's gotten tough over the last few years about signing, unfortunately.

My biggest regret was going to see John Lee Hooker at a small venue in town (that's INSANELY EXPENSIVE to see shows at). I was with a girl, and brought a Hooker album to have signed. I didn't realize Eric Burdon would be the opener, and we got there late, and missed his entire set. Then...during Hooker's performance, I DID NOT KNOW...that Burdon was in the back at the merch booth, signing everything, for everybody. I would've brought the 8 CDs I have of his!!!!! One of my biggest regrets.

Comment by BallroomDays67 on August 23, 2018 at 6:31pm

Great post. I'm a big Burdon/Animals fan too. Here's a full set I have from the third lineup of the Animals. I also purchased a set with Price and Steel from Tracks UK.

Comment by Josh Board on August 23, 2018 at 6:34pm

I've wanted a complete with Alan Price SOOO BAD. I remember 20 years ago, RR Auctions had one, on an 8x10, for $100. It was just a bit out of my price range back then, though.

Comment by BallroomDays67 on August 23, 2018 at 6:50pm

Lots of bargains back then. Who knew? The last full set from the original lineup sold by RR went for close to $1K, and it's on a card.

Comment by Josh Board on August 23, 2018 at 6:57pm

Yeah. I could've gotten a guitar signed by Arthur Lee for $200, but...I had so many Lee signatures, I didn't buy it (and I was at the show when the dealer gave it to a musician to take it backstage to have signed). In a nice, blue Sharpie paint pen.

But, I did buy a signed EXILE ON MAINSTREET CD from them. Had it signed by the album cover artist, only to find out -- it was a fake. RR was nice enough to refund my money, even though it was years after I bought it (and they let me keep the item), but still.

Comment by BallroomDays67 on August 23, 2018 at 7:14pm

That also definitely would have been a great item for your collection. I'm still waiting for a signed debut LP to turn up from the signing Love did in Dallas in 1966. They apparently signed quite a few LPs, but for some reason they never turn up for sale.

Comment by Josh Board on August 23, 2018 at 7:16pm

You know why? So many people just tossed that stuff. You know how many albums I have from friends that just decided to "get rid of them"? And, when people die and their family has their estates, they take the albums to some place and get 25 bucks for a thousand albums. Nobody thinks to look thru them for signed gems.

Comment by Robert Babb on August 25, 2018 at 6:30am

eric bourdon was in warsaw several years back for a classic rock concert that I missed. I heard he signed a lot! awesome story josh! sorry about your friend as well.

Comment by Josh Board on August 25, 2018 at 7:23pm

Thanks for the kind words, Robert. 

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