This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with King Errisson.
King Errisson received his first “big break” at the age of 23 when his talent with the congas was prominently displayed in a memorable night club scene in the James Bond movie, “Thunderball.” He left Nassau for drama studies in Canada, formed a jazz band in New York City, and spent a year performing in a Bermuda club where he met Redd Foxx. That was his second break. Foxx invited King to appear at his place in Los Angeles,Sammy Davis Jr. asked King to appear on the Hollywood Palace, and Cannonball Adderly became his mentor in the recording studio.
As a session musician, King has worked with a very diverse group of artists representing a wide variety of musical styles. King has been praised as “the unsung hero behind Motown” by Ray Singleton in her book “Berry, Me, and Motown” as well as by Berry Gordy in his book “To Be Loved,” for his work with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, the Jackson Five, and many others. He has also worked with Herb Alpert, John Klemmer, Doc Severinsen, Ringo Starr, Blood Sweat & Tears, Jim Stafford, Swamp Dogg, Barbra Streisand, David Cassidy, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Mathis, OC Smith, Lou Rawles, Hodges James and Smith, Mickey Stevenson, Barry White and The Carpenters. He was a featured member of the Incredible Bongo Band and has been a member of Neil Diamond’s touring band since 1976.
As a solo artist and composer, King is best known as a master of funky disco with lots of congas. His early albums are prized by “breakbeat hounds.” His more recent solo albums can be classified as jazz with a Caribbean flavor. His songs have appeared on albums by Neil Diamond, Eddie Kendricks, Flora Purim, The Temptations, and in the soundtrack of the movie, “Ted and Venus.”
As an actor, King has appeared in the movie “Uptown Saturday Night” with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier, the 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond, and “Thunderball” with Sean Connery. He has also appeared and on television in Abe Vigoda’s “Fish” series and “The Watcher.”