Cast King


Born: Pisgah, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

J.D "Cast" King was a country musician and songwriter from Old Sand Mountain, Alabama. King released the album, "Saw Mill Man", in 2005. He was aged 79 at the time of recording. A song from the album entitled "Outlaw" was included in the score of Gus Van Sant's 2007 film, Paranoid Park. "Saw Mill Man" drew comparisons to Johnny Cash's American Recordings series.[1] King's baritone voice and acoustic guitar have been praised as possessing a raw and affecting quality.[2] The narratives of the songs dealt with characteristic country themes such as poverty, broken relationships, and murderous outlaws. Although his opportunity to record a full length album came late in life, Cast King had previously recorded for Sun Records in 1955. With his band, The Country Drifters, he cut around a dozen songs at this time.[3] It was musician, Matt Downer, who located King and encouraged him to come out of a long musical retirement and record. Downer also played electric guitar throughout "Saw Mill Man".[4] The record was met with favourable reviews from Rolling Stone, Arthur Magazine, Mojo, and No Depression among other publications. King was preparing a second collection of songs when it was discovered that he was suffering from cancer. He died at the age of 81 on December 13, 2007.[5]



1^ "Cast King - Saw Mill Man - Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-14.

2^ Johnson, Robin (2005-12-07). "Record Review: Cast King / Sawmill Man". Metro Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14.

3^ "Artists". Retrieved 2010-12-14.

4^ "Cast King: Saw Mill Man (Locust) | Dusty Wright's Culture Catch". 2006-04-17. Retrieved 2010-12-14.

5^ Posted by Ann VerWiebe at December 18, 2007 3:10 PM (2007-12-18). "(( Dan Fogelberg, Cast King and Henrietta Yurchenco Pass ))"





The 79 year-old country music journeyman Cast King hails from a small spot in the hills of Alabama between Heaven and hard luck called Old Sand Mountain where he has been distilling and refining original country music tunes for the last 6 1/2 decades. Saw Mill Man is his debut album and it's a revelation of self penned murder ballads, heartbreak songs and some of the finest drinking numbers you're likely to hear.

Some Praise

"On these country laments & murder ballads, he's so starkly matter-of-fact about life's slights that it chills" - Spin

"This is unregenerate country music at its most intense" - Playboy

"You won't hear a better, more honest country record this year" – Harp Magazine

"King’s deep, weathered baritone carries so much emotional weight in each note that this record is heavier than any metal." - Detroit Metro Times

"A killer discovery." - Now Toronto

"The best hard dawn country music you'll hear" - Stop Smiling Magazine

“…remarkable: honest, timeless, often wryly witty and occasionally sad or tender. Beautifully observed songwriting and a warm, rich voice.” - MOJO

“3 stars out of 5 -- With able assistance from electric guitarist Matt Downer, he gives a little piece of himself in each of a dozen ballads... Down Beat Magazine




Born and raised in the backwoods of Old Sand Mountain, Alabama (in an honest-to-god tarpaper shack), Joseph “Cast” King does not fuck around. See, at age 79, Sawmill Man is King’s debut album. He first hit the stage at 14 with the Alabama Pals and eventually toured the United States with his Country Drifters — even cutting songs for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in the 1950s. Now, a half-century later, Sawmill draws you into King’s reality; you’re there with the elderly gent — watching his gnarled fingers clutch the neck of his guitar, hearing the weight of missed opportunities, sorrow and heartbreak. Part of the songs’ allure is that they were brought to light long after King’s music career sputtered to a halt. Alabama musician Matt Downer taped him after prowling the Sand Mountain area “catching” songs by making field recordings of local musicians, most of whom were well-aged. Downer’s talks with the old pickers invariably produced the name, Cast King. He then found King and this album is the result. Lyrically it’s great — and with peers like Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, you can only imagine the music. Spartan, old-time country tunes — written by a man who’s already lived them. We need songs like these.--BY ROBIN JOHNSON


More info:

J.D. "Cast" King: Even though country musician King began playing guitar at age 10 and recorded tracks at Sun Records in the '50s, he didn't release his first album, "Saw Mill Man," until he was 79. He was working on his his second collection when it was discovered earlier this month that his back trouble was really cancer throughout his body. He died at 81 in his Alabama home with Helen, his wife of 59 years, by his side.














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