Joe ''King'' Lee (1937 - )

International jazz musician, Joe ''King'' Lee was born in a nameless town a few hours south of New Orleans. ''We was so so poor, times were so hard,'' Lee told Melody Maker in 1957, ''we had to eat my cocker spaniel.'' Taking the beloved pet's name as his own — the dog was named Joe — Lee began a career as a street performer. ''My first act, I would tie my shoelaces. And my brother would chew gum. And we made good money. It was a poor town. Not many people knew what shoelaces was.'' Lee eventually found himself working with the footwear of the likes of Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman, and Miles Davis. None of them ever spoke to him, but he did learn to play trumpet by osmosis and started gigging with a small band of his own. ''We would get gigs in train depots, upholstery stores, supermarkets, emergency rooms.'' Lee and his band, the Trotters, are perhaps best known for their 1956 novelty hit, ''I Warmed Up the Throne for Ya,'' a song which exemplifies their signature style, dubbed ''no-bop'' by critics. Lee continues to tour today. Scatman Crothers, perennial opening act for Lee and his band, once said of the bandleader: ''Talent and ability are overrated; it's persistence and cluelessness that counts.''

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