Eric Gibson (M.B.E.), the leader of the band had no interest in music as a child, although he came from a very musical family. As a young man, he went on contract as a farm laborer in the southern United States like many of the men during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Eric recalls being called on to provide musical accompaniment for his co-workers, simply because of his Gibson name which had become synonymous with music. In fact, the island of Acklins where he was born is well known for its strong musical heritage and has produced many of the finest musicians in the Bahamas.
In the early days, small combos were formed to perform at lodge halls for special events. One such band consisted of Eric Gibson, Leroy 'Duke' Hanna, Carl 'Flash' Rogers, Lord Cody, and Charlie Smith. The name commonly used for these combos was 'Eric & The Boys'.
In 1957, Hubert Pinder invited Eric to perform in the evenings at the Captain Kid club on Bay Street. There Everett Henfield and Bahamian great Ronnie Butler would join him and they would come to be known as the Captain Kid Trio. Ronnie would spend six years under Eric’s leadership before forming his own group 'Ronnie and The Ramblers'. It was not until Eric's band moved to the BAMA club that they would adopt the name "King Eric & His Knights".
In 1966, King Eric opened the doors of the Elite Recording Studio. This studio became the place for local entertainers to “lay their tracks”. But the attractiveness of the studio extended further than the pool of entertainers residing in The Bahamas. Among the internationally acclaimed artists drawn to the studio was Keith Emerson who is said to have found it very appealing for much of his work during the seventies and eighties.
Over the years, King Eric had many prominent Bahamian musicians play in his band. Names like 'Duke' Errol Strachan, Paul Hanna, Ronnie Butler, Flash, Prince Charles of 'The Royal Cats', Howard Melbourne and Lord Cody all in some way made their contribution to the King & Knights Band.
In the early seventies, the group got the opportunity to perform at the Tradewinds lounge on Paradise Island, a club that was catering mostly to foreign bands. With the assistance of the Musicians & Entertainers Union, Sir Clifford Darling, then Minister of Labor, and A.D. Hanna, then Minister of Immigration, the band was awarded the contract to appear at this brand new resort. But it was not until 1973 that the band really came into its own, when they moved into their own club on West Bay Street.
There the King & Knights became one of the hottest nightspots in Nassau catering to locals and tourists alike. One unique feature of the club was that it had two clubs under one roof. The entrance on Bay Street (King & Knights) led into a dinner and show club where a native variety show was staged nightly, while the "Back Side" featured dance bands and popular DJ's. King Eric's musicians during the later years would consist of his brother John Gibson on the saxophone, Jim Duncombe vocals, Frankie Adams vocals, and Stuart Halbert keyboards.
Eric Gibson (M.B.E.)- Most Excellent
Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) as
part of the Queen's New Year Honors for 2004.
Not only did King Eric & His Knights entertain locally, they frequently traveled to places like Canada, Australia, and many cities in the United States including New York, Detroit, and Chicago. Always promoting the music of the Bahamas, King Eric took advantage of recording songs by many Bahamian composers, especially those of Eric Minns. Songs like Fox Hill Gal, Thank Goodness It's Friday, and Once Is Not Enough are only a few that would turn out to be some of Eric Minns' greatest contribution to The King & Knights band.
In 1979, The King & Knights club was in full swing. The band with which this author performed (Willpower) entertained at the Backside while King & His Knights mesmerized tourists and locals alike with fire dancing, limbo dancing, glass bottle eating, flame throwing, and swinging island songs. In retrospect, these days may be seen as the beginning of the end of the best days in the live music industry in the Bahamas.
A brief decade following these exciting years, it was difficult to find live entertainment in the City of Nassau. Today, King Eric keeps in touch with his colleagues and still actively promotes Bahamian entertainment. His last effort with The New King & Knights Club hosts one of the last surviving native revues in Nassau.
These days, King Eric is actively involved in the Bahamian regatta, both making sails, and running his own sloop. He has become quite popular and competitive in these sloop races, which take place on the Family islands of the Bahamas. These events bring together the communities of the various islands through music, dancing, and Bahamian cuisine.