The Humor of Fred King ~ Something He Really Sank his Chops Into

History with Baltimore, TSU, and Freddie King ~ Freddie was one of my main memories of college life, many years ago. He was going back to school to get, I believe, his Masters of Arts or doctorate in conducting? I don’t remember which. I dO remember, however, those teeth of his. He was always popping them at us during performances. Drove us crazy trying not to laugh on stage, but oh the sound he got from us. – Malkah

Fred got most of his teeth knocked out playing football in high school. Rather than replacing those that had gone missing, he dentists said it would be simpler to just pull the ones that were left and go with a complete set of dentures. He happily concurred, and immediately incorporated his fake teeth into his over-sized personality.

I asked him once, (when I was in high school,) why he never bothered to use some kind of fastener to keep them in place. (I couldn’t imagine how humiliating it would be to be 18 years old and have your teeth fall out on a dinner date.) He just laughed. Fred had no personal relationship with concepts like humiliation. In fact, he reveled in experiences that most people would find embarrassing. He sought those moments out, and if he couldn’t find one organically, he would manufacture them. It was one of his great strengths – taking a liability and turning into an asset. I saw Fred’s teeth fall out of his mouth hundreds of times. But never by accident. And always to the horror of some innocent bystander. Walking down the street with him, or through an airport, was like watching an episode of Candid Camera without commercials.


Listen to Bonus Episode 64: It’s Good To Be The King – HERE

One thought on “The Humor of Fred King ~ Something He Really Sank his Chops Into

  1. Mike,

    This morning I came across your article on Fred King on Before he moved to Overlea SHS, he taught the 9th grade choir at Pine Grove Jr High. I was privileged to be in his class in 1975-76, and reading your tale brought back many fond memories. I remember the wild antics, the crazy teeth.

    I remember when he started wearing an old digital watch with an LED display. Since the LEDs drew a lot of power from the battery, it wasn’t on all the time like an LCD display. To turn it on you flicked your wrist, and his conducting style involved a lot of flicking of the wrist. We all thought it was funny, and when we finally told him what we were laughing about he joined in, exclaiming “That’s why the batteries keep going dead!”

    Most of all I remember how deeply he cared about his students and music. He wasn’t just putting in another day to get a paycheck. He worked with individual students who needed a little more help. He formed a barbershop quartet of students. He gave everything he could, every day. He was suffering from kidney stones that year, and it was amazing that he showed up some days. But it was important to him that he gave.

    I lost track of him after that year. I didn’t realize he was at TSU or I would have tracked him down (I was there 1979-1983). I’m sorry to hear of his passing, but I’m glad to know he was active in the music he loved right to the end. Thank you for writing about your experiences with him.

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