Guitarist Duffy King forged a successful career in suburban Detroit and around the Great Lakes State. When he and his wife bought a condo in Carefree, he felt he had to start over again with music.
But North Valley venues rallied around the performer and gave him a second musical home.
“When I moved to Arizona, The Hideaway gave me my first gig,” he said. “They said anytime I come out here, they’ll put me on their schedule.”
His upcoming shows include 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at Keeler’s and 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 8, at Local Jonny’s, where he “rocks it out.”
“They can expect to hear anything from John Mayer, OneRepublic to Led Zeppelin to The Who to Al Green to Steely Dan to Maroon 5 and Van Morrison. It’s a really, really wide range.
“There is a little jazz from my solo stuff, and Stevie Wonder. It’s all really good stuff. Everyone really enjoys my setlist.”
Music is in King’s blood. His mother, Patsy King, was a professional singer, long before he was born. She turned down a major recording contract to care for her children.
“They wanted her to go on the road,” he said. “She said she couldn’t because she had kids.”
Still, she performed around the state — sometimes with 5-year-old Duffy in tow.
“I remember her taking me sometimes to performances when I was a little kid when she couldn’t get a babysitter,” he recalled. “She would put me on the couch and tell me to go to sleep. But I’d crawl out and look under the stage curtain and watch her.”
King’s brothers — Duane King and Nick King — are musicians. Their band, Magic, was one of the first white bands signed to Motown. Stevie Wonder even played on one of their albums.
“Here I am, 12 years old, and my brothers have this album out,” he said. “It was pretty cool. They mentored me big time. Their guitarist (Joey Murcia) used to say I was his protégé. He ended up going on to be the guitar player for the Bee Gees.”
King started playing gigs professionally at age 15 and has continued doing so full time. His mom would have to take him to gigs because he was too young to get into clubs.
“When I was a teenager, I played every bar there was in metro Detroit,” he said with a laugh.
As a teen in Indian River, in Northern Michigan, King met fellow musician Alan Hewitt, who lived nearby in Petoskey.
“We’ve known each other since we were teenagers in competing bands, per se,” he said. “He went to the Berklee College of Music and I went to Central (Michigan University). After a couple of years of music schools, I ended up back in Detroit.”
Hewitt then moved to Los Angeles, where he connected with the Moody Blues when the legendary rock band was looking for a keyboard player. In 2009, he was hired. Bassist John Lodge went solo and took Hewitt with him. King was then recruited to play guitar for Lodge’s solo project.
Lodge and his solo band perform his Moody Blues songs like “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band),” “Gemini Dream” and “Isn’t Life Strange.” Lodge, Asia and Yes were on tour when the COVID-19 pandemic halted it.
Currently, King hits the stage with the prog-rock band Alan Hewitt & One Nation, who recently released the single “We’re One Nation,” and Lodge.
“I play so many different kinds of music,” King added. “The One Nation is prog rock/jazz. It’s pretty prog rock. We’re all really accomplished musicians in that band. Not much can get by us, as far as music goes.”