Skip to comments.B.B. King, 88, is heckled at an awkward St. Louis performance
Posted on 04/07/2014 8:35:15 AM PDT by raccoonradio
B.B. King has spent decades singing The Thrill Is Gone. Perhaps at long last it actually is. Make no mistake: King is a living legend, a national treasure, and the sobriquet king of the blues is not mere wordplay, but a title earned. To be in the same room as him and breathe the same air is an honor and a privilege.
But for the majority of Kings concert at the Peabody Opera House on Friday night, the sizeable crowd could have been excused for thinking thats all they were going to get.
Kings shows in recent years have featured as much talk as playing, and the 88-year-old musician is obviously slowing down, just as anyone would. But the balance slipped way out of proportion at this show. King sat center stage and spoke, sometimes in non sequiturs, sometimes inaudibly. He flirted with women in the first few rows and made a few ribald comments, without apology. I like to have fun, he said. I love who I am and what I do.
For a while, the audience was with him, laughing at his jokes and asides. But it was 45 minutes into the show before King performed anything resembling a song. Even then, his playing was shaky. He explained that he and the band had been off for two months, causing him to lose confidence.
(Excerpt) Read more at stltoday.com ...
One of the comments on article: “you were going to see an 88 year old just what the hell did you expect for him to moonwalk across the stage?” A couple people said it wasn’t really heckling, people were just shouting out song requests...and as noted perhaps having the house lights on distracted BB.
yeah, his peeps ought to protect him and tell him to go relax in Florida
Just needs a little ‘rehearsal time’ and a set list.
I’d love to sit and talk to him.
I saw him 10ish years ago in Laughlin NV. and he had to be helped around on stage back then. But his playing was still spot on. Glad I got to see him while he still had it.
If I make it to 88, hell, I hope I’m still able to LIFT my American Stratocaster.
The man is indomitable... but age takes it’s toll.
The audience should have had a little more respect; half of them wouldn’t be able to do a tenth of what this man has accomplished in his lifetime.
But we live in a graceless age, with a sizable chunk of people who not only represent it, but propel it further into gracelessness.
The ones that get on my last nerve are the rough-&-tough guys who aged but still try to give the appearance that they can battle like they are 25. TV/movie directors have to put their ‘actions’ in slow motion and use other camera/setting tricks just for them to appear to be tuffies.
Speaking of which, ‘Ahhhhhhhhnold’ is not doing so well on his return to ‘action’ movies. They are flopping.
When we saw him a couple of years ago, it was like the story of his life punctuated by song, which I really enjoyed, but my husband wanted more music.
I used to like to go to his restaurant at the Universal Studios. It was fun.
Now let’s all clap the way BB does, with the back of his hand against his open palm.
Keep on doing what you want to do BB, and God Bless you.
by Steve Goodman
My baby came to me this morning and said I'm kinda confused
She said "If me and B.B. king was both drownin',
Which one would you choose?"
And I said "Oh Baby,
I said Oh Baby,
I said Oh, Oh Baby,
Babe, I ain't never heard you play no blues!"
About 30 years ago, my wife and I owned a small Nightclub/restaurant in Wilmington DE just south of Philly.
On occasion, a few promoters would call us to have a act do a warm-up on a weekday night prior to their appearance in Philly....
One of those was a last minute (same day) performance by a guy I had never heard of BB King.... I was 23 and into rock not Blues...
We booked him for virtually nothing, the promoter stated he just wanted a warm up venue and a stool and a mic on stage.
There was only about 50 people enjoying dinner when he arrived. The nicest guy you would ever meet in the music industry.
He and I had dinner together then he asked me if I would like to hold “Lucille”. I did not know that he named his guitar...
The 30-50 people there got a real treat for two sets.....
I started listening to some blues after that...
Reminds me of my dad taking me to see Lionel Hampton some years back. We left pretty early in the show, as he seemed unable to keep up with his band.
Scotty Moore gave up playing some years ago when he realized he could no longer remember the songs. He still was going out publicly though.
I once saw James Brown play in approx. 1984.
He did a lot of wandering around the stage, bouncing up and down, and the old schtick of his handlers putting robes and coats on him as he tore them off. He could do none of the moves he might have done 15 years earlier - not that the audience was expecting that....
He was very much overweight, sweating like he was in a sauna, and I felt he was high or drunk. He spent the whole time vamping the audience to the band’s background music. It wasn’t really a performance. Terrible show.
There’s a time to rest on your laurels. 88 sure seems like a good age to do so.
I hate the fact that this entertainer got heckled by classless people. But maybe it is time to put Lucille down and enjoy that fact that what he did gave millions of people enjoyment for many years.
I dunno. His call, obviously. Saddens me, immensely, hearing that this happened to him on stage. The man can play, and is a master of his style.
And as to turning on the “house lights” for a sing along, some audiences LIKE that sort of thing. I don’t go to concerts to sing. I go to see the entertainers sing and play.
I’ve seen Little Richard several times, and the thinnest performance came when he stood on his piano, let someone else play the keys, and led the audience in a variety of songs (including Itsy Bitsy Spider).
I came to see him, do HIS songs (even if he DID record a child’s album later in life).
Some performers will give the audience the show they think they will “like” (covers, etc, “you know, the songs you KNOW”) or the show they deserve (not much effort) if they are unresponsive early on.
Supposedly in the 80s/90s, Marlon Brando would give a director 2 readings of a character, if the director chose the wrong one, he’d “phone in” the performance.
Heck, Hunter S. Thompson made a career out of letting his fans take over the speaking tours, inviting them to sit onstage and talk instead of shouting things over his monologue from the audience. Sometimes they’d babble on for over 20 minutes while Hunter nodded.
Saw him live in concert several times from 1994-2001.
Even then he would sit down for the show and either sing, or play guitar, but not do both at the same time. He’d play a song halfway through as an instrumental and come in with the vocal, or lead with the vocal and pick some notes at the bridge.
James Brown was a singer, songwriter, band leader, and a musician (although I only ever saw him play music in his final tour out of 3 decades I saw him in).
At a point, the band behind BB and BB singing is part of the show.
The final time I saw James Brown, it was the smallest band I’d seen him with, and he played a 2 song keyboard tribute to Ray Charles (who’d died earlier that year) as well as keys on a few other songs. He’d slowed down a bit over previous times I’d seen him, but he never left the stage to take a break or even took a sip of water.
Hardest working man in show biz. Hard title to beat.
I saw JB do a great show in 1985 when he was riding high on the radio success of Living In America (from Rocky IV or V).
Even many years ago I wondered what was going on with B.B. King. You would have thought that such a great guitarist would have more variation and spontaneity in his performances.
I don’t go to these old bird shows for the performance quality. You go to see a piece of musical history that will soon be gone. Chuck Berry still does shows but no more duck walks from him.
I've seen some retrospective (or biographical) shows like this from a number of performers (sometimes even with a slideshow or video montage). Not necessarily a bad thing, as long and the audience understands that's what they are getting. Sometimes it's just a chance to say "so long" or "goodbye".
Video/Film performances will live on.
I just took my daughter to see him March 1st in Salem Oregon. The man played great and I honestly think his voice sounds better now. He was pure class, his stories and jokes were great. He signed guitars for free and even had a young kid join him on stage for a song. Second best concert I have been too right after Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Raising Sands tour in Sweethome Oregon.
He was thrilled to get a chance to wait on her and her husband Gary Morton at an upscale restaurant.
When the waiter asked what she would like, her husband said, "She'll have the steak."
"How would you like that done, Miss Ball?" the waiter asked. She never looked up.
"She doesn't speak to the help" said Morton.
I believe this story. She was a nasty piece of work.
Many years ago, I saw Eubie Blake on the old Merv Griffin show.
Eubie was in his 90s. The interview was painful and he was very confused. Finally, he waved Merv away and said, “Maybe I should just play.”
And he played brilliantly.
“There comes a time when performers have to realize...it’s not ‘there’ anymore...”
With guys like BB King, there comes a time when the audience needs to just quit being pricks, sit back, and enjoy the 90 minutes of whatever he can give them. And St Louis,,,, Im about 99% sure that I KNOW the problem that night, though it can not be openly named.
Eeech, Cerebral Flatulence, I saw him with my father in 2008 when he was 92.
You're right - thanks for sharing.
At a point, the band behind BB and BB singing is part of the show.
“What the #@$# is James talking about?”
“I don’t know but we’re getting paid, keep singing,”
Years ago Ella Fitzgerald came to play in Buffalo. The day of the performance I was talking to the critic that was reviewing the show. He said that he had most of the review written before the performance. I opined that this seemed a touch dishonest. He said the woman is 70 years old and the Queen of Jazz. The very least I can do is give her the kindest review possible due a person of her stature.
Funny thing is, the way I heard it, the screams, wails, etc. in concert were fines being levied on the musicians for being too loud, out of step, etc.
Fred Cole eventually got tired of James' rules and quit for George Clinton. James would give them the suits but then they'd have to pay for the dry cleaning every show which ate up the gig money they were paid.
Yep, and James would fine band members for any mistake, he’d give a certain look during the song that told them they screwed up and they were going to pay for it.
I saw him perhaps 10 years ago or so.
He still “had it” then. But he spent more time talking than playing.
Someone (Zappa? Van Halen? I don’t recall who) said that music critics often write about themselves more than the musician/album they are reviewing anyway.
Bet 99% of the rude ones were those typical self-important 20-something college age pricks, and recent graduates who are told all day long how “important” they are.
The man is a helluva blues guitarist.
His performance was just awful at that time.
Spent more time talking, if one could call his verbal ramblings, talking, than playing a single note. His "band" were not too concerned about needing to play a single note either!
I was both embarrassed for him but also steamed to have paid for a couple of tickets plus parking for this event.
Some in the audience quietly mumbled and muttered their disgust at what was being foisted at us, in the name of a "musical performance, but there was no heckling going on in Kansas City. We're far more polite than St. Louis (who must be getting audience participation hints from Chicago.)
Ditto on that. I saw him there, too, on three separate occasions while visiting my parents in Bullhead City.
Also, I recall an interview he gave in 1987 (if memory serves me) where he recalled that there was a period in time when his music was no longer mainstream or appreciated and he was struggling financially until several bands (particularly English bands like U2) began performing covers of his music in the mid 80’s which created a new appreciation for his music, as well as nice financial windfall for him.
Always liked him, and have no issue with anything he may say or do now in the final years of his life.
Sounds about right and rings true to my ears. See my previous post on this thread.
awww... this makes me sad... but all-in-all, it seems the crowd just yelled out songs they wanted to hear...
“...music critics ...”
“Music Critics” are typically people who can’t or didn’t cut it in the real world, so they spend their times ripping apart people who can.
If I want to hear someone’s music, I’ll buy it and make my own mind up on it. Something either sings to your heart, or it doesn’t - and you know which is which. The way a particular phrasing on a guitar, a vocal, the rhythm of a drummer’s beat, or a violin solo grabs you is unique to every person’s soul and it moves them differently.
No one needs a “music critic” to tell them which way the wind blows.
Pretty much, no one needs a “music critic” for anything.
“...The nicest guy you would ever meet in the music industry...”
I’ve heard that about him too.
Fred Welsey, my mistake. Fred Cole was a white rock guitarist who had heart surgery recently...
“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” - Frank Zappa
different quote but quite appropriate!