Backup singer Clydie King (8/21/1943 – 1/7/2019)

Clydie King recorded with Phil Spector, B.B. King, Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, Dickey Betts, Joe Walsh, Arlo Guthrie,  Graham Nash, Elton John, Phil Ochs, Carly Simon, Neil Diamond, and Ringo Starr, among others.

Clydie KingI’m writing about the late Clydie King by request. Someone I know IRL saw and liked the piece I had done about composer Norman Gimbel, another obscure but important musical force who had also recently passed.

Again, you may not know her, but the backup singer warranted an extensive obituary in the New York Times. As is true of many black singers of that era, she grew up in the church. “After her mother’s death was raised by her older sister.” She toured with artists such as Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, and Bob Dylan.

Clydie recorded with Phil Spector, B.B. King, Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, Dickey Betts, Joe Walsh, Arlo Guthrie,  Graham Nash, Elton John, Phil Ochs, Carly Simon, Neil Diamond, and Ringo Starr, among others. She was one of The Blackberries, a trio which backed Humble Pie. In a 1971 interview, she estimated that she had sung on 300 records by then.

She is so noteworthy that she could/should have been in 20 Feet from Stardom, a great documentary about the supporting singers. I don’t believe she was in it, but her friend Merry Clayton was represented. They both sang on Rolling Stones albums. It was King who cajoled Clayton to sing with her on the Lynyrd Skynyrd anthem Sweet Home Alabama.

“Like other backup singers, King’s attempt to carve out her own career resulted in several solid, but commercially unsuccessful, albums.” You can find her discography here and on her Wikipedia page.

The Rolling Stone piece has links of Dylan and King singing together, mostly in his born-again period. .”She was my ultimate singing partner,” says Dylan. “No one ever came close. We were two soulmates”

The Definitely Dylan radio show connects to several tracks, not all related to Bob. In several articles, there are references to a romantic relationship between Dylan and King.

Listen to:

About Love – #45 on the soul charts in 1971
Loneliness (Will Bring Us Together Again) – Brown Sugar (Clydie King), #44 on the soul charts in 1973