I got to hang out with John a bit at the past two Portland Ukulele Festivals. He had an amazing facility to play classical music on the ukulele. He had such huge hands and stocky wrists! I was always amazed at how he could make those big, thick fingers of his fly up and down a narrow soprano fretboard with such commanding ease!
He had a very wry, and very dry, sense of humour. He was fun to be around. He was fond of telling people, with a sparkle in his eye, that he never, ever, changed strings on his ukuleles!
John taught me the proper way to wear a Hawaiian shirt. The secret is to first put on your newest T-shirt, and then don the Hawaiian shirt, leaving it unbuttoned and untucked. You see, you have to dress warm to look cool! It's a lesson I learned all too well. That's how I dress to busk 'eight days a week' now.
I never took a class with John at the PUF, but I was fully intending to take his 'Pulling Strings' class this year. Now it's too late, and I wasn't ready. I will have to settle for learning from his published charts.
What Child Is This?/Greensleeves was the first chord solo I ever learned. I found it on John's website one day, after PUF07. http://www.nalu-music.com/
I mentioned that I had learned this piece to John at PUF08, and that I next wanted to learn how to play his arrangement of Carol Of The Bells. He said to just start whittling away at it, and learn it in sections. COTB has proven to be the most daunting piece of music I've ever attempted! I knew it would be. I had hoped to have it worked up in time for last Christmas, but I only managed to get it 'roughed in.' Hopefully, I'll have it fully polished next Christmas.
I warmup with these pieces once a day, now. I've begun work on his chart for Tarantella Italiana. Playing and learning his music somehow helps me deal with my sense of loss. It's a loss that I know the global ukulele community is feeling.
It was our passion for this noble little instrument, the ukulele, that brought me in contact with this departed monarch of a musician.
I'm glad I knew John King. I'll miss him.