The Segovia of Ukulele
May 2, 2009 10:45 AM   Subscribe

John King, likely the world’s only classical ukulele virtuoso, died last month at the age of 55. Here he is performing a Bach prelude, playing more Bach, and playing Chopsticks.
posted by ornate insect (20 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This guy is fantastic, but I don't think he was the only one.
posted by nzero at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Holy shit the prelude of the first cello suite is gorgeous.. what an awesome talent, as I stare at my uke and know I can't even play "Home on the Range"
posted by ChickenringNYC at 10:53 AM on May 2, 2009

Was he good with a silly touchscreen too?
posted by leviathan3k at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2009

This is one of those things that I never ever would've known about, had you not posted it. And I'm thankful for you sharing it with me. The version of "Chopsticks" is so lighthearted and fun, it makes me think the tune was written to be played on the ukulele.
posted by elmer benson at 11:30 AM on May 2, 2009

You know, I see things like "ukulele virtuoso" and think "why? why become a virtuoso on what is essentially a toy instrument??" And then I hear the ukulele or spoons or mouth harp or whatever virtuoso play and think "ah, that's why."

Beautiful music, thanks for sharing.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:39 AM on May 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Great find. I can't believe what I hear even though I'm watching it.
posted by RussHy at 12:01 PM on May 2, 2009

This is nice uke. But I thought chopsticks was this tune?
posted by mjg123 at 12:08 PM on May 2, 2009

John King performed at the Ukulele Expo in 2002, an event which happened to be held in my neighborhood. I hadn't heard the very sad news of John's untimely death. I'm glad that he left us so much music.
posted by Songdog at 12:15 PM on May 2, 2009


posted by chillmost at 12:16 PM on May 2, 2009

I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as virtuoso, but Jake Shimabukuro is no slouch either. Bach is quite charming on such a small instrument.
posted by hellslinger at 2:45 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

OK, but I'm not going out and buying another ukulele.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:30 PM on May 2, 2009

very nice...thanks for posting... Makes me appreciate simplicity as an important part of beauty.
posted by HuronBob at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2009

and, mjg123, nope, the song you linked to isn't chopsticks....
posted by HuronBob at 3:52 PM on May 2, 2009

Far from the world's only. Taimane Gardner is amazing.
posted by kyrademon at 4:02 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

and via LooseFilter's excellent music blog, a whole Orchestra of ukelele virtuosi
posted by Edward L at 4:42 PM on May 2, 2009

Wow. What a shimmering, liquid sound he manages to coax out of that instrument. Thanks :)
posted by vronsky at 7:48 PM on May 2, 2009

Ah, only 55 years old, that's very sad.

From the NYT obit:
"He often said that his fondest desire was to move to Hawaii and live in a shack in the mountains near the beach."

Maybe he's there now.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:45 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love that this guy looks just like the person in front of you at the grocery check out line who kind of fumbled with his credit card (and was buying an awful lot of spaghetti). He leaves, and you never think of him again. But, as his water is boiling, he is playing this. Amazing.
posted by Corduroy at 9:51 PM on May 2, 2009

Until I read this FPP, I had no idea at all that John King had died, and his most untimely demise is doubly disastrous to me. I had purchased a CD from him and, as a ukulele player myself, I was flabbergasted at his unmatched musicianship on an instrument so many people view only as a toy. The world of ukulele devotees is infinitely poorer that he is no longer among us.

But on an even more personal note, I learned from the linked NYT article that John's widow was named "Debi." Until this evening, I had not an inkling that the bright law student married to "John King" who interned in my office over 25 years ago, was the wife of this unique virtuoso. I can only guess at the depth of her grief. My sadness to learn of John King's passing is amplified by a wholly unexpected personal connection to his loss.
posted by rdone at 11:23 PM on May 2, 2009

I loves me the BWM 100x's
posted by MtDewd at 9:09 AM on May 4, 2009

« Older Art with perspective   |   Geoengineering Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments