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Circus Ring of Fame Wheel Plaque

Karl L. King

Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 1995

Circus Profession: Composer

Born: 1891

Died: 1971

Karl l king Circus Ring Of Fame Foundation inductee

Karl Lawrence King was an American march music bandmaster and composer, renowned for his work Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite, one of the most popular circus march music. Apart from being a brilliant composer, he was also an excellent baritone and cornet player as well. His march compositions became famous in circus bands, which seriously lacked standard march music till then. Many circus companies adopted his compositions and much of them are now regarded as classic works in this genre. His contributions to circus music earned him the title March King, which he shared with another stalwart, John Philip Sousa. Karl King’s compositions had a standout quality as it matched with the rhythm of the acts and he quickly rose to leadership positions in leading circus bands like Buffalo Bill and the Barnum and Bailey. He concentrated only in circus band music and contributed much more than any other composer. Aerial waltzes and circus galops were his specialty and these were in popular demand during his time and, even after several years of his death, no other composer could beat the popularity of his compositions. He was a humble man, who led a common life and was greatly respected and loved as a spectacular composer and a great human being.