August 13, 1971 – King Curtis (The Kingpins) was born Curtis Ousley on February 7, 1934. He was adopted and brought up in Fort Worth where he started playing the saxophone locally when he was 12.
He turned down college scholarships in order to join the Lionel Hampton Band and in 1952 moved to New York to become a session musician, recording for such labels as Prestige, Enjoy, Capitol and Atco.
He recorded with Nat Adderley, Wynton Kelly, Buddy Holly, Andy Williams, The Coasters, The Five Keys, Aretha Franklin and many more. His saxophone virtuosity was widely admired in rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, blues, funk and soul jazz, his band The Kingpins also backed Aretha Franklin.
It was at this time that he put together his band The Kingpins which included Richard Tee, Cornell Dupree, Jerry Jemmott, and Bernard Purdie.
Curtis was best known for his distinctive sax riffs and solos such as on “Yakety Yak”, which later became the inspiration for Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax” and his own “Memphis Soul Stew”.
In 1970, he won the Best R&B Instrumental Performance Grammy for “Games People Play” and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 6th 2000.
Curtis was stabbed to death by Juan Montanez, a vagrant drug addict on the front steps of his New York home) on August 13, 1971. He was 37.