Bluesman Little Freddie King, 77, has suffered a serious injury to his upper spine and neck after a bicycling accident last Thursday.
“Wack-O” Wade Wright, King’s manager, confirmed that Freddie had been riding his favorite bike down Poland Avenue, and hit some debris that caused the bike to flip him over the handlebars and head-first into the street. King was wearing a helmet, but compression of the vertebrae in his neck resulted. Tour manager Gary J. Edwards confirmed the report, and said “His upper body was paralyzed for few hours, and he’s still having problems with his left hand.”
Wright was in University Medical Center with King, and doctors recommended surgery on his neck to relieve the spinal compression. “It took me three times to convince Freddie to have the surgery,” said Wright. “I had taken his guitar up to the hospital to see if he could play, and his left hand couldn’t grip the frets.” King finally agreed to the operation, and they rolled him on a gurney into the operating room this morning at 10:30 a.m. “And then when I looked around they were rolling him right out.” said Wright. “Freddie decided that he was going to wait a bit to see if any more feeling came back into his hand before undergoing surgery.” The surgery would have fused some vertebrae in his neck with possibly a stabilizing plate. Wright said the doctors told King that it may have been necessary to “go in through the front” to perform the surgery. “Freddie is afraid the surgery will damage his vocal cords, and he swears he’s getting some feeling back in his left hand and wants to wait to see what happens,” he said. “Freddie is 77-years-old and it would be a very serious surgery for him to recover from, although when he had decided to have the surgery the doctors were ecstatic. Because Freddie doesn’t want it, we have to wait.”
When OffBeat spoke to Wright, he said he was awaiting a call from the hospital that would tell him when to pick King up. “We’re just going to have to wait and see if he gets better, as we hope,” he said. “It’s all we can do right now, since Freddie doesn’t want the surgery.” Wright promised to keep us up-to-date on Little Freddie’s progress.
King, who graced the June 2008 cover of OffBeat, was bound for an overseas tour in Italy at the time of the accident, the postponement of which seems likely. Recently, he was included on the bill of talent for Ponderosa Stomp.