By Steve Newton
Blues fans are learning some sad news today.
Smokin’ Joe Kubek, the Texas blues-rock guitarist best known for his work alongside guitarist-vocalist Bnois King, died of a heart attack yesterday (October 11).
Kubek, 58, passed away minutes before he was to appear on stage at the Pleasure Island Seafood & Blues Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Billboard described Kubek as “one of the fiercest Texas blues guitarists”. He was gigging in clubs around Dallas at the age of 14, and by the time he was 19 he was backing blues legend Freddie King. In future years he would become acquainted with the likes of Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and B.B. King.
In 1989 Kubek met Bnois King at a jam session in Dallas, and the two set off on a successful career, releasing albums on the Bullseye Blues, Blind Pig, and Alligator record labels. Blues Revue called the it “the best guitar tandem on the scene today.”
I interviewed Kubek on the phone before a show at Vancouver’s Yale Hotel back in 1999, and he talked about that musical partnership.
“There is no BS,” he pointed out, “and we respect each other enough to complement each other. Like when it’s time for Bnois to solo I’ll give him some kind of a nice rhythm to stand on, and he’ll do the same for me. It falls together real easily.”
Kubek is survived by his wife Phyllis.