King Ernest Baker

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"King Ernest" Baker
Birth name Ernest Leon Baker
Also known as King Ernest
Born (1939-05-30)May 30, 1939
Natchez, Mississippi, United States
Died March 5, 2000(2000-03-05) (aged 60)
Santa Maria, California, United States[1]
Genres Soul, R&B, blues
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1958 - 2000
Labels Evidence, Fat Possum Records
Associated acts Yvonne Jones, Candy Man and the Candy Bars, Ernest and the Soul Invaders, John Marx & the Blues Patrol

"King" Ernest Baker (May 30, 1939 – March 5, 2000)[2] was an American blues and soul singer. He recorded "I Feel Alright" and "That's When I Woke Up."[2] Baker was born in Natchez, Mississippi, and died in a car crash in 2000,[2] just after finishing recording an album.


Coming from a large family, he was the 3rd born of 11 children. Ernest was born in Natchez, Mississippi on May 5, 1939.[3] His great-grandfather was an Italian violinist from Milan who lived to be 109. According to Baker, all of his Southern State children (referred to as half-Mulatto in those times) were violinists and guitar players.[4] His grandfather was part of a Baker Band Revue, which played around and in Louisiana and Mississippi. His father was a guitarist who would play at the Honky-tonk places in the south. He recalled sitting on his fathers knee at around seven years old and listening to his father signing and playing his slide guitar. He would also hold out a cup for the listeners to put money in to.[3]

Blues singer Bobby Bland is a cousin of King Ernest.[5][6]


His first professional outing was in 1958 with Byther Smith at Wynn's Lounge in Chicago, Illinois. Baker credited Smith with giving him his start as a professional.[7]

He became a popular Chicago club attraction, and performed variously with Tyrone Davis, Buddy Guy and Howlin' Wolf.[8] Being a tall man standing at 6 ft 3in,[4] his shows were quite exuberant and gained him a reputation in Chicago and New York. And with his dancing, comparisons were made to James Brown and Jackie Wilson.[9] The labels he recorded for were, Barry in New York and in Chicago, Sonic, Funk, Mercury and Blue Soul.[1]

Having come back to Chicago from New York he was working with his band he got together. The outfit was called King Ernest and the Soul Invaders. It consisted of a rhythm section, 3 piece horn section and a bongo player. He also travelled with comedian Emmanuel Arrington. In Chicago he didn't do any recording, and from 1967 to 1970 he played the clubs. Throughout the 1970s, he played venues like the Skyway Lounge High Chaparral, and Ernie's Lounge. With his band he also toured around Louisiana and Mississippi a couple of times.[3]

In 1980 he was lured to Los Angeles by the prospect of a record deal. The deal never came to fruition, which was a deciding factor in him leaving the business.[10] Due to the disappointments in his career he got a job with the Sheriffs department. He stayed there for 14 years as a supervisor until retiring at 55.[7]

Return to show business[edit]

Both Bakers cousin plus a promoter / producer Randy Chortkoff were responsible for his return to the stage.[3][11] Via the classified ads in local papers, Baker recruited his band. With their a mix of R&B, funk, gospel and blues, they began playing in clubs in Los Angeles black areas. Baker was hired by Randy Chortkoff as the featured singer in his blues revue, backed by some of L.A.'s best blues musicians. He started booking King Ernest & the Wild Knights at venues up and down the West Coast.[3]

In 1996 King Ernest backed by John Marx & the Blues Patrol were set to appear at the Ojai Cupful, which was a downsized version of the popular October Bowlful event. This event was promoted by Michael Kauffer.[12]

Later Baker got a recording contract and his first CD album King of Hearts was released in January 1997 on the Evidence label.[3] One of the musicians that played on it was East Hampton Guitarist Zac Zunis.[13]

In May 1999 King Earnest did a short tour of shows in Israel - 8 shows in Tel Aviv and in Eilat, backed by local band "The Daily Blues" (led by harmonica player Dov Hammer). As a devout Christian, this tour was very meaningful to him, and he was very moved to visit the sites of the holy land.

In 2000, Baker had just finished recording his second album, Blues Got Soul which would end up being his last recording.[14] He had a listen to the CD on March 2.[15]

Accident and death[edit]

A few days after listening to his new album, and while on his way back to Los Angeles he was killed in a car crash, near to Santa Maria, California on Highway 101.[15] Baker and his band had done a show at Mothers Tavern, in San Luis Obispo, California. The van containing Baker apparently left the road, rolled over and hit a tree. Baker who was apparently sleeping in the back of the van was killed when he was thrown from it.[5]


Act Title Release info Year Notes
King Ernest "I Feel Alright" / "Hold It Baby" Barry 1005 1966 [16]
Candy Man and the Candy Bars
featuring King Ernest & Yvonne
"Voodoo Man" / "Be My Guy" Roulette 4707 1966 [17]
King Ernest & Yvonne Jones
with Candy Man and the Candy Bars
"Strangers In The Night" / "Harlem Moods" R Records 45-1513 Side 2 credited to Candy Man and the Candy Bars[18][19]
King Earnest "The Soul Stroke (Can You Handle It)" / "The Soul Stroke" Sonic RC-1000-1 1970 [20]
King Ernest Baker "Somebody Somewhere (Is Playing With Yours)" / (Instr) Funk Records 1971 [21]
King Ernest Baker "I Can't Turn You A Loose" / "That's When I Woke Up" Supreme Records [22]
Ernest Baker "Alone Again" / "Do It With The Feeling (Pt.1)" Blue Soul 1010 1975 [23][24]
Earnest King "I Can't Turn It A Loose" / "You Gonna Miss Me" "LK" Records LK7 1976 [20]
Ernest Baker "Alone Again" / "Do It With The Feeling" Grapevine 2000 G2K 45-110 2001 [25]
King Ernest "Must Have Lost My Mind (Radio Edit)"
"Must Have Lost My Mind (Extended Version)" / "Rock Me In Your Arms"
Grapevine GSX 5004 2002 12" 33RPM[20]
Act Title Release info Year F Notes
Ernest Baker Do It With The Feeling LP [23][24]
King Ernest King of Hearts Evidence 26084-2 1997 CD [26]
King Ernest Blues Got Soul Fat Possum Records 80334-2 2001 CD [15]


  1. ^ a b The Blues Encyclopedia, edited by Edward Komara, Peter Lee - Page 571 KING ERNEST
  2. ^ a b c - accessed October 3, 2011
  3. ^ a b c d e f Blues Access, No. 29, Spring 1997 - The Second Time Around, An Interview with "King Ernest" Baker Story by Scott Dirks
  4. ^ a b Weekly Wire, August 24, 1998 - King Ernest by Ron Bally
  5. ^ a b MTV News, 03/24/2000 - Bluesman King Ernest Killed In Van Wreck After Show archive-Mark-Hedin
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1996 - King Ernest Offers Blues Refill - Bill Lockey
  7. ^ a b Blues Access The Second Time Around
  8. ^ Orlando Sentinel, September 8, 2000 - A Royal Marriage Of Blues, Soul From Gutsy `King' Ernest Baker by Parry Gettelman
  9. ^ PopMatters - King Ernest, Blues Got Soul By Barbara Flaska
  10. ^ Elvis Pelvis - Ernest Baker, King Ernest March 4, 2000 Age 60
  11. ^ AllMusic - King Ernest, Artist Biography by Richard Skelly
  12. ^ Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1996 - King Ernest Offers Blues Refill - Bill Lockey
  13. ^ The East Hampton Star,. February 9, 2017 - A Grammy Proves Elusive for an East Hampton Guitarist By Christopher Walsh
  14. ^ All About Jazz, October 1, 2000 - King Ernest: Blues Got Soul By Edd Kopp
  15. ^ a b c The Inland Empire Blues Society, Reviewed January, 2001 - King ernest - Blues Got Soul - Review, Quotes by: Gary Chiachi, Long Beach Blues Festival Producer
  16. ^ 45Cat - King Ernest - Discography
  17. ^ Discogs - Candy Man and the Candy Bars Discography
  18. ^ Roots Vinyl Guide - King Ernest & Yvonne Jones/Candy Man & The Candybars" R Records 7" Promo Single
  19. ^ Collectors Frenzy - NORTHERN SOUL 45 King Ernest & Yvonne Jones-Strangers In The Night-R M- HEAR
  20. ^ a b c Discogs - King Ernest Discography, Singles & EPs
  21. ^ 45Cat - King Ernest Baker - Discography
  22. ^ Popsike - King Ernest Baker I Can't Turn You Aloose Supreme 70's soul / funk 45 HEAR
  23. ^ a b Discogs - Ernest Baker Discography Singles & EPs
  24. ^ a b - Ernest Baker – Alone Again / Do It With Feeling
  25. ^ 45Cat - Ernest Baker - Discography
  26. ^ Jazz Times, 05/01/1997 - King Ernest Baker King of Hearts By Bill Milkowski

External links[edit]