The King tradition of excellence goes back to 1893. As a young man, Henderson N. White ran an instrument repair shop in Cleveland, Ohio, and became friends with the musicians in the city. One of the finest musicians was Thomas King, a solo trombonist with the Lyceum Theatre Orchestra. He urged White to design a new trombone and offered to help. The two men collaborated, White providing his mechanical skill, King contributing his experience as an artist. They tried their ideas, tested them over a period of months, and finally produced a trombone with a vastly improved slide action and superb tonal quality. White named it the "King" trombone, after his friend. It was an immediate success in Cleveland and soon became one of the most popular trombones in the country. White followed his trombone success by designing and patenting a new silver cornet, which also won almost instant acceptance. Then came King trumpets, French horns, baritones and double-bell euphoniums. And so the company began.
During the early years, White worked at the benches along with his employees to learn the causes of imperfections in band instruments ... his own included. He insisted that every flaw be corrected. He even sponsored a 12-piece band that played at the factory three times a week not only for the enjoyment of his people but also as a continuing test of his instruments. H.N. White pioneered the use of Sterling silver in making bells for cornets, trumpets and trombones.
By the time of Henderson White's death in 1940, he had designed and developed 28 instruments, including a complete line of low brass instruments which provided the player both musical superiority and long-lasting construction. The business was carried on for the next 25 years under the direction of Mrs. Henderson White.
In 1964, 12-1/2 acres of land in Eastlake, Ohio, became the site for a new plant. When Mrs. White retired in 1965, the company was sold to a group of investors who expressed their sincere intentions to carry on the ideals and philosophies of the White family.
The expansion program continued, and it was determined that the company could attain even greater growth through an association with a larger organization. In January of 1966, the company was merged with The Seeburg Corporation, a major manufacturer in the electronic entertainment industry. At the completion of this merger, the name was changed from the H. N. White Company to King Musical Instruments and, for a short period, ownership changed once again.
Over the years, many famous professionals have endorsed King instruments. Tommy Dorsey used a King trombone throughout his career. His brother, Jimmy, also played King instruments. Others include William Bell, Ray Anthony, Vaughn Monroe, Johnny "Scat" Davis, Harry James, Nat Adderley, Kai Winding, Yusef Lateef, Cannonball Adderley and Mel Davis.