#Throwback Thursday With Late Ukulele Master John King

By Greg Olwell

This week on #TBT we’d like to take a moment to celebrate the contributions of late ukulele master John King.

Though he isn’t around to ride the Third Wave of ukulele love, he planted many seeds for today’s community and left a lasting legacy as a player, educator, and historian of the ukulele.

One of King’s specialties was creating ukulele arrangements of classical music. Focusing on Baroque styles, which were originally played on instruments that share some ancestry with the uke, King recorded two albums of music and published several books of his arrangements, including the influential book The Classical Ukulele.

The Florida resident was also a passionate author (and co-author) of several deeply researched books that uncovered the history of the ukulele, including The ‘Ukulele: A History, written with Jim Tranquada, and The Martin Ukulele: The Little Instrument That Helped Create a Guitar Giant, which was co-written with Tom Walsh. King also served on the board of directors for the Ukulele Hall of Fame.

In a few popular clips available on YouTube, John King play a Strad Uke, made by luthier Joel Eckhaus of Portland, Maine’s Earnest Instruments. It is a concert-sized ukulele modeled after one of the five known Stradivari guitars.


King, who died April 3, 2009, loved the ukulele like few before or since and he left us a lot to be thankful for.