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“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King

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“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King

“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King

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“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King

“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King


song info

    “Born Under a Bad Sign” is a blues song recorded by Albert King.

    Song Title: Born Under a Bad Sign
    Artist: Albert King
    Album: Born Under a Bad Sign
    Genre: electric blues, rock, R&B, blues
    Composer: Copyright © 1967 Booker T. Jones, William Bell
    Lead Vocals: Albert King
    Lead Guitar: Albert King
    Rhythm Guitar: Steve Cropper (single)
    Piano: Isaac Hayes (single)
    Organ: Booker T. Jones (single)
    Bass Guitar: Donald “Duck” Dunn (single)
    Drums: Al Jackson, Jr. (single)
    Recorded: 17 May 1967, Stax Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
    Released: 1967
    Format: 7" 45-rpm vinyl single
    B-side: Personal Manager
    Label: Stax (cat. no. 217)

    This song is the number twelve (12) greatest blues song of all time according to Digital Dream Door’s Rick Varner.

    Number of listens: 13446
    Current rank: 817 (updated weekly)
    Highest rank: 796 (play the video all the way through to register a vote for this song)


    Summary quotation from Wikipedia:

    “Born Under a Bad Sign” is a blues song recorded by American blues singer and guitarist Albert King in 1967. Called “a timeless staple of the blues”, the song also had strong crossover appeal to the rock audience with its bass and guitar harmony line and topical astrology reference. “Born Under a Bad Sign” became an R&B chart hit for King and numerous blues and other musicians have made it perhaps the most recorded Albert King song.

Original song

    The lyrics to “Born Under a Bad Sign” were written by Stax Records rhythm and blues singer William Bell, with music by Stax bandleader Booker T. Jones. As Bell recalled in an interview:

    We needed a blues song for Albert King … I had this idea in the back of my mind that I was gonna do myself. Astrology and all that stuff was pretty big then. I got this idea that [it] might work.
    Bell’s lyrics describe “hard luck and trouble” tempered by “wine and women”, with wordplay in the chorus in the turnaround:
    Born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl
    If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all
    Similar lyrics are found in Lightnin’ Slim’s 1954 swamp blues song “Bad Luck Blues”:
    Lord if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all (2⨯)
    You know bad luck has been followin’ poor Lightnin’, ever since I began to crawl
    Now folks I was born in the last month of the year…
    Jones’s arrangement for the song does not follow the typical twelve-bar blues I-IV-V progression. Rather, it is dominated by an R&B-style bass/rhythm guitar line, which Bell claimed that he came up with “while fooling around on the guitar”. Albert King provided his signature guitar fills around his vocals and solos during the break and outro, with backing by Booker T. & the M.G.’s and The Memphis Horns.

    “Born Under a Bad Sign” became a Billboard R&B chart hit for King, reaching number 49. It was later included on his first album for Stax, also titled Born Under a Bad Sign. The album’s cover depicts images of “bad luck signs” or common superstitions, including a black cat, a Friday the 13th calendar page, skull and crossbones, ace of spades, and snake eyes. Subsequently, the song has appeared on numerous King and various artist collections.

    Albert King recorded an updated version of “Born Under a Bad Sign” with producer Allen Toussaint for his 1978 New Orleans Heat album. Live versions are included on Wednesday Night in San Francisco, Chicago 1978, In Session with Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Godfather of the Blues: His Last European Tour 1992, and Talkin’ Blues.

—from Wikipedia (the Wikipedia:Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License applies to Wikipedia’s block of text and possible accompanying picture, along with any alterations, transformations, and/or building upon Wikipedia’s original text that applied to this block of text)

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