"Hide Away" is a blues instrumental that has become a rite of passage for many aspiring blues guitar players. Freddie King first recorded "Hide Away" in 1960 and the following year it reached #5 in the Billboard R&B chart. The song reached #29 in the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the highest showings in the pop chart by a blues artist. The song was named after Mel's Hide Away Lounge, a Chicago blues club where many of the blues musicians of the era played.
Although "Hide Away" is credited to Freddie King and Sonny Thompson (pianist and A&R man at Federal Records, in an interview, Freddie King said that "Hide Away" came from Hound Dog Taylor. Shakey Jake Harris, a harmonica player who played with Magic Sam, said "At that time me and Sam was playing at Mel's Hideaway. That's where Freddie King's Hide Away comes from. We stole it form Hound Dog Taylor, and Freddie King stole it from us. It used to be our theme song. It was Magic Sam's theme song. And so Freddie King would come in and jam with us until he learnt that song." Magic Sam recorded a variation of the song, "Do The Camel Walk," in 1961 (Chief 7026).
In his autobiography, Willie Dixon suggests that he named the song "Hide Away." He went on to say that "the guy who really wrote "Hide Away" was this guy called Irving Spencer. Dixon also claimed that Freddie King had recorded "Hide Away" earlier for Cobra Records, but none of his Cobra material was ever issued.
Freddie King credits Robert Jr. Lockwood with inspiring "the diminished chord I used on the break part." "And the thing I put in there like "The Walk." That came from one of Jimmy McCracklin's songs, you know, I just pitched it all in like this. Made a commercial thing out of it. But - it sold." The guitar figure from Jimmy McCracklin's "The Walk" (Checker 885) can be heard on the third verse. Freddie King also "pitched in" a take on the theme from Peter Gunn, a popular T.V. show of the time, on the sixth verse. The "Peter Gunn Theme" was written by Henry Mancini, a Hollywood composer of film scores (Breakfast At Tiffany's, Pink Panther, etc.).
In 1962, King Curtis recorded the song with Cornell Dupree on guitar. In 1966, Eric Clapton recorded "Hide Away" on the John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton album (Decca LK 4804/London PS 492). The album was widely popular in England, where it reached #6 in the UK albums chart. The version followed the original, but with a somewhat jazzier rhythm-section arrangement and more vamping by Clapton, including an Elmore James-style riff on the seventh verse. The "Peter Gunn Theme" verse was dropped in favor of a loose take on "Baby Elephant Walk," another Henry Mancini composition, from the 1962 movie Hatari!.
Numerous versions of "Hide Away" followed, including a remake by Freddie King on his 1969 album Freddie King Is A Blues Master [Cotillion SD 9004, produced by King Curtis). However, the original remains the standard on which most contemporary versions are based. Freddie King's "Hide Away" has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.