Pianist-composer-publisher Bill King is a multi-talented individual whose recording and production credits include ‘Live! In Session’ by Liberty Silver; ‘Magnolia Nights, Moment’s Notice’ by Bill King and the Jazz Report All-Stars, ‘From The Heart’ a tribute to piano great Oscar Peterson, ‘East Side Symphony, The Night Passage Years’ and most recently Bill King’s Saturday Nite Fish Fry “Jump Shout Rock da House,” The Rockit 88 Band’s “Too Much Fun” and the King.Alleyne.Roth Trio’s “It Might As Well Be Spring.”. These projects highlight King’s versatility as both a keyboardist and composer.
Born in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1946, King spent his youth studying with W.C. Handy’s former pianist Eva Smith, the Louisville Academy of music’s Don Murray and Indiana University saxophonist-educator Jamey Aebersold. By the early ‘60’s, he had won 16 first place awards in classical piano and clarinet competitions and a scholarship to Oscar Peterson’s Advanced School of Contemporary music-- attending in 63.
King started his career performing with local community orchestras and big bands. In1966, he and his band The Chateaus had their first Billboard Top 50 hit with jazz pianist’s Bobby Timmons gospel romp, Moanin’. This success led to working with many of the stars of the day--The Shangrilas, Dick and Dee Dee, Freddy Cannon, The Dovells, Ronnie Dove, opening for the Beaches Boys on three occasions, and work with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars.
By 1968, King had moved from Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan where he held the position as house pianist at Louie Jordan’s to Los Angeles to become music director and pianist for Linda Ronstadt. A year later, he joined Janis Joplin’s band in the same capacity. In 1969, King moved to Toronto and signed a recording contract with Capitol Records. Over the next couple years he released two albums as a leader---Goodbye Superdad in 1970 and Dixie Peach in 1972.
King returned to Los Angeles in 1976 as music director for vocalist Martha Reeves. After accompanying her on a European tour, he joined The Pointer Sisters and spent the next year touring Japan and the U.S. with them. Recording dates with The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Lakeside, John Handy, Sonny Criss and a tour with John Klemmer ( V.S.O.P). featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard and Ron Carter) followed .
King returned to Toronto in the late ‘70s to form the rock group China and record one self-titled album for Epic/CBS. By 1984 after a year-long stint with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, King opened his first independent jazz label Night Passage Records. Over the next four years King recorded (Ice, Avenue B and City of Dreams) followed by one release on Gaia Records---Magnolia Nights. Avenue B was Nominated for Best Jazz Recording at the Junos.
During the mid-eighties, King began a career as a jazz broadcaster first at Q-107 in 1985 and Q-Jazz and then creating the Jazz Report Radio Network extending from 1986- 1991. In 1987 he established a equally rewarding career as a publisher and record company president. In 1987, he and partner Greg Sutherland founded The Jazz Report Magazine which began as an eight-page newsletter and quickly evolved into a four-color magazine distributed world-wide. The pair went on to open a new record label Radioland in 1992 and a year later signed a major manufacturing and distribution deal with Verve/Polygram Canada.
King has also been a driving force in the success of the Beaches International Jazz Festival since it’s inception in 1988. His duties as artistic director and emcee bring him in contact with some of the finest talent worldwide. Recently, King added artistic duties for the Toronto International BBQ & Blues Festival to his portfolio.
Gavin has a diverse experience though song, stage, film, and TV throughout his career.
He started his musical journey through many ensembles and choirs in school and University, and eventually ended up being the youngest member in Calgary Opera Chorus history. Gavin was also a member of Alberta pop group The EarthTones, recording an album with that group and touring Western Canada. In his late teens, he was asked to sing back up for Michael Bolton for his Time Love and Tenderness tour, and after moving back to Toronto to pursue music even more, Gavin was fortunate to become the newest and youngest ( ever ) member of Canadian Pop A Cappella institution The Nylons at the tender age of 20. Over the next few years, Gavin was heard on four Nylons albums, and was touring locales such as Brazil, China, and Europe, as well as all over North America. Gavin’s voice as lead on the single “Love TKO” on the album “Because”, got the band a Juno Nomination for best R&B Recording.
Gavin decided to pursue other musical interests after 4 years with the band. He ventured back to professional theatre, where highlights include playing the lead Collins in the Canadian company of RENT at the Royal Alex theatre in Toronto, and later having the opportunity to play Simba in the original Canadian company of The Lion King. A few other selected theatre favorites include Tempest, As You Like It with the Canadian Stage Company, and Smokey Joe's Cafe at Stage West Calgary.
Gavin recorded his debut album "Anything Like Mine" in 1998, gaining favourable chart positions on Canadian airwaves with 9 singles, including "Can I Get Close" which garnered him yet another Juno nomination for best R&B solo recording.
He has shared the stage with Deborah Cox, Jill Scott, Shania Twain, Michelle Wright, Natalie Cole, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin, just to name a few.
Gavin can also be heard on a myriad of jingles and voice overs for both radio and television, as well as on screen in commercials.
He’s also lived at sea for 2 years performing as a lead production vocalist on Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruise lines, and has guest entertained on Norwegian Cruise Lines, visiting amazing locales such as the Caribbean, Central and South America, The Mediterranean, Alaska, and Hawaii.
After about 8 years of traveling and performing on his own, the Nylons asked him once again to become a member, and has been part time for the past 6 years. “It’s like riding a bike” he said, and is happy to be with old friends gigging from time to time and touring once more as a member of the iconic Canadian pop act.
Gavin continues to perform solo as well as with the Nylons. Most recently, for the past several years, Gavin has also become a guest featured vocalist for Jeans N’ Classics.. Singing with Symphony Orchestras across North America for their pops series. He has headlined concerts that featured the music of music legends such as Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Prince, Michael Jackson, and Motown, with fantastic Symphonies across the US and Canada ( Such as Orchestra London, Calgary Symphony Orchestra, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Niagara Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Symphony Orchestra and Kitchener/Waterloo Symphony to name a few ) for thousands of fantastic fans.
Gavin has just finished a new solo recording to rave reviews - a Jazz album entitled "For All We Know" with fantastic musician Bill King. It's a smooth, sultry, chill album, reminiscent of the style of Tony Bennet w. Bill Evans. A touch of soul, croon, and jazz.. this album has a new take on some classic tunes by such greats as Tony Bennet, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Donny Hathaway just to name a few. “For All We Know” is a sweet blend of styles in a minimalistic, yet inspiring, soulful and heart felt formula of just voice, and piano.