Skip to comments.King of the Blues, R.I.P.
Posted on 05/16/2015 3:33:09 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
America has lost a national treasure:
B. B. King, whose world-weary voice and wailing guitar lifted him from the cotton fields of Mississippi to a global stage and the apex of American blues, died Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89.
Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.
I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions, Mr. King said in his autobiography, Blues All Around Me (1996), written with David Ritz.
In performances, his singing and his solos flowed into each other as he wrung notes from the neck of his guitar, vibrating his hand as if it were wounded, his face a mask of suffering. Many of the songs he sang like his biggest hit, The Thrill Is Gone (Ill still live on/But so lonely Ill be) were poems of pain and perseverance.
It is worth noting that B.B. Kings biggest hit, recorded in 1969, was a cover version of a 1951 song by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell, but King made it his own. The elements of Kings trademark style playing guitar fills between vocal lines, bending notes and adding vibrato were not original to him, but he combined them in an unique way with sophisticated arrangements. Aware of his own lack of musical education, King at the outset of his career was shrewd enough to hire the classically trained Onzie Horne to write arrangements for his band, and hit the road with a vengeance. When it came to paying dues as a performer, nobody could dispute that Kings dues were fully paid:
He began in juke joints, country dance halls and ghetto nightclubs, playing 342 one-night stands in 1956 and 200 to 300 shows a year for a half-century thereafter, rising to concert halls, casino main stages and international acclaim.
Anyone enthralled by the popular misconception that a working musicians life is glamorous should contemplate what it was like for King and his band in the 1950s when, in addition to the ordinary hassles of life on the road, they also had to cope with the difficulties that Jim Crow-era segregation imposed. Kings hard-earned status as the most commercially successful blues performer in history, however, required him to endure the ups and downs of a career affected by shifts in popular music tastes. In the early 1960s, he was actually booed in Baltimore by a young audience that was there to see the soul crooner Sam Cooke. King kept working playing more than 40 weeks on the road year after year until a new generation rediscovered the blues. British rockers like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, who had traced rock-and-roll back to its R&B roots, inspired a blues revival in the late 1960s:
Mr. King considered a 1968 performance at the Fillmore West, the San Francisco rock palace, to have been the moment of his commercial breakthrough . . .
When he saw long-haired white people lining up outside the Fillmore, he said, he told his road manager, I think they booked us in the wrong place. Then the promoter Bill Graham introduced him to the sold-out crowd: Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King.
Everybody stood up, and I cried, Mr. King said. That was the beginning of it.
King was 43 years old and had already played more than 4,000 gigs before his commercial breakthrough in 1968.
Think about that the next time you see a spoiled rich white girl at an elite university whining about how shes oppressed.
Trigger alert, my ass.
B.B. King was born the son of sharecroppers in Mississippi and bought his first guitar for $15 when he was 12 years old. Imagine how he must have felt in December 2006 when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush. Real achievement, earned through hard work and persistence, is the only kind of success any honest man should ever desire. I dont care who you are or how much talent youve got, you damned sure aint better than the King of the Blues.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings . . .
Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)
Miss Lucille is now a widow. R.I.P. Bluesman.
Will Lucille wind up at the Smithsonian?
Eveybody’s mortal,he will be missed.
And somehow 0bama managed to work himself into the eulogies on BB King - “Yea, he was great but then look at me!”
Looking at TMZ a few weeks ago, somebody who works at a Hospice took a cell phone picture of B.B. King, reclining in a hospital bed, wearing a drooping hospital gown, and looking already dead. Whoever did that should be fined for violating HIPPA laws.
RIP, BB - and I’m sure you are, you brought so much joy to so many millions of people.
Saw him in concert once, about 45 years ago.
Everybody wanted to know why he sang the blues.
If you don’t know, listen here:
Gosh, was B.B. cool.
I saw him in Worcester about by the same time.
I saw him at the University of Wisconsin, Baraboo Campus in 1969 or 70 as I recall. A small intimate theater, it was wonderful.
It might have been at the Alexandria Roller Rink in northern Virginia. Saw Janis Joplin there and a few others. My butt still hurts from sitting on the wooden floor.
I saw him live at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, the year he turned 65 (1990?). Leon Russell was the opening act.
King said since he was 65, he was retiring from the road. Obviously he did not stick to that.
Eric Clapton advised people to listen to this album by King from 1965. I did and it is great. I believe King would want us to “celebrate” him through his music. Enjoy.
We’re all getting along. We just attended Clapton’s 70th birthday concert in NYC.
“Were all getting along. We just attended Claptons 70th birthday concert in NYC.”
That is cool. He is among my favorites. My brother in law attended the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions recently at Cleveland, invited by Jimmy Vaughan.
SRV would be 61 had he lived. That young homely little guy, that earned the respect of the truly greats early on.
I saw him many times over the years.
RIP BB King.
Oh, wow. I was there at his 1968 gig at the Fillmore (Auditorium in those days, none of the “Fillmore West” necessitated by the later upstart Fillmore East). I’d listened to the blues on old scratchy records, but the deep emotional impact of hearing it live from such an artist was completely unexpected. About three weeks later, it was back to the Fillmore to hear Albert King and his guitar “Lucy.”
Thank you, Mr. King, for sharing your gift with us. Your influence will outlive us all. RIP.
You can write a short story with titles from his works....
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