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Nina Simone: Why (The King Of Love Is Dead) (1968)

“We want to do a tune written for today, for this hour, for Dr. Martin Luther King. This tune is written about him and for him,” said Nina Simone as she introduced one of the best Martin Luther King songs in history, “Why (The King Of Love Is Dead),” to the audience at The Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, New York, just three days after King was murdered.

The song, honoring the courage and compassion of “this great man,” was written by Simone’s bassist Gene Taylor.

Even quicker to emerge was the tribute from Otis Spann. On the day after King’s assassination, the blues pianist, a member of Muddy Waters’ band, performed two newly composed blues for the fallen civil-rights leader: “Blues For Martin Luther King” and “Hotel Lorraine.”