Smokin’ Joe Kubek died on Sunday, October 11, of a heart attack, friends of the Dallas blues guitarist have confirmed.
According to several reports, Kubek was due to appear onstage at the Pleasure Island Seafood & Blues Festival in North Carolina when he suffered a heart attack. Pat Boyack, a friend of Kubek and a fellow bluesman, says the guitarist died in his sleep.
Kubek was a Pennsylvania native who as a child moved to Dallas, where he came to define the city’s blues scene. As a youngster, he had an opportunity to perform with Freddie King and later shared the stage with him just days before King’s death on December 28, 1976.
He released his first record, Steppin’ Out Texas Style, in 1991. Kubek’s subsequent records featured him with Bnois King, a Louisiana-born singer-guitarist who he met in Dallas clubs.
“Somehow we ended up in the dressing room of the performers that night,” King told radio station KNON dee-jay Don O. in the late Eighties, explaining how he and Kubek first got together. “We also ended up onstage during the jam, and even played some together. Even though we never spoke, I remembered him because he could play. I left that night and didn’t think about it again.
“Then one night I went down to Poor David’s Pub, and there was Joe Kubek. He came over and said, ‘Say, man. I remember you. You want to play a little bit?’ That was the first time we ever spoke. When we got onstage together, it was immediately like I had been playing with the guy all my life. There was no clashing, no competition. Every time I would do something he would do something that made me sound good. Every time he did something, I would do the same. It was just automatic.
“I had played with a lot of guitar players, but it always turned into a shooting match or a duel or just completely clashed. This was without any conversation about it.”
Kubek’s last album was Fat Man’s Shine Parlor, released this year on Blind Pig Records.
We’ll keep you updated on funeral arrangements as we learn about them.
Here’s Smokin’ Joe and King performing “”My Heart’s in Texas.”