King was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California. He was one of the founding members of the LA-based Strawberry Alarm Clock, a mid-1960s pop psychedelic rock band. The band's largest success was with the 1967 single "Incense and Peppermints", which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. While with the band he played both electric guitar and bass guitar. The band's popularity waned considerably in the early 1970s. Faced with the loss of their recording contract with Uni Records and with internal conflicts over musical direction, Strawberry Alarm Clock disbanded in early 1972. King opted to remain in the South, inspired by an up-and-coming band called Lynyrd Skynyrd.