‘I’ve been dead so many times’: the life and times of New Orleans’s blues king

Little Freddie King has survived three shootings, stabbings, a near fatal bike accident, a stomach ulcer, an accidental electrocution, Hurricane Katrina, and now a pandemic

In a dark, wood-panelled room, thick with humidity and reeking of smoke, the bluesman sits on a battered red couch that droops in the middle. He takes a moment to reflect before walking to the stage. He’s dressed in a pair of shades, a straw fedora, and a technicolor suit jacket splashed with turquoise, pink and peach. His flamboyance is an instant contrast with the dingy surroundings. He takes a final drag of a cigarette, down to the butt, before adjusting his tie.

Little Freddie King has played this venue – BJ’s Lounge, a ramshackle bar in the Bywater neighbourhood of New Orleans – for the past 27 years. But tonight is special. Tonight is his 81st birthday.

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