B.B. King, born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 is an American born, blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. A lifetime of of hard work and his widespread popularity have etched his reputation in granite as one of the most respected and successful blues musicians ever. Rolling Stone magazine named him the third-greatest guitarist of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time.
I don’t think you can call him a straight up guitarist only. The songs B.B King composed were full of the feelings, emotions and life experiences he expressed in his unique way. Not many people don’t associate with his lyrics in some capacity. His words played just as big of a part in his success as his guitar work. The beauty of B.B. King’s guitar playing had to do with picking the right notes. The man is a total genius, and is the whole blues package.
B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin and Buddy Guy are three of the old generation of blues players and composers still alive and performing regularly. When you get a chance to catch these old blues dudes in concert, don’t miss it. We saw Buddy Guy in concert about 2 years ago, man, what a great performance and concert. He is one of the original masters. We could tell it instantly, the second he hit the stage that this was going to be great. I know B.B. King is a master musician, composer and entertainer also, and commands that type of respect from fans and audiences.
B.B. King is a blues icon who has influenced nearly every great blues player to come after him, but at his age, he still has a magical influence on people who play the guitar, or just listen to “the blues”.
When B.B. King starts to play the guitar he takes you to his World of Blues Feeling — from despair to ecstasy, from delicate grace to raw power, from lost to found. Though he’s influenced and inspired many of the most famous guitar players, B.B. owns the magic. His style is original and personal and instantly recognizable. What kind of man can make or break your heart with his guitar?
As the story goes, his favorite guitar is named “Lucille”. In the mid-1950s, while B.B. was performing at a dance in Twist, Arkansas, a few fans became unruly. Two men got into a fight and knocked over a kerosene stove, setting fire to the hall. B.B. raced outdoors to safety with everyone else, then realized that he left his beloved $30 acoustic guitar inside, so he rushed back inside the burning building to retrieve it, narrowly escaping death. When he later found out that the fight had been over a woman named Lucille, he decided to give the name to his guitar to remind him never to do a crazy thing like fight over a woman. Ever since, each one of B.B.’s trademark Gibson guitars has been called Lucille.
One of the surprising items I found about B.B. King is his favorite singer is Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography King speaks about how he was, and is, a “Sinatra nut” and how he relaxes in bed every night listening to Sinatra’s classic album “In the Wee Small Hours“. King has given much credit to Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who weren’t given the chance to play in “white dominated” venues. Sinatra got B. B. King into the main showrooms in Vegas during the 1960s.
A few other interesting details, King is a licensed pilot, a known gambler, a vegetarian, non-drinker, and non-smoker. He has lived with Type II Diabetes for over twenty years and is a visible spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products. ( I wish he would lose some weight).
B. B. King also made an appearance at the Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007. On the DVD, he plays “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss” and “Rock Me Baby” with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, and Hubert Sumlin. This is a terrific DVD, featuring the greatest living blues players ever. B.B. king’s performance on the DVD is very emotional, and not long enough.
We found a wealth of excellent websites dedicated to B.B. King at Guitar Players Center. Simply do a Google search if you want more B.B. King vibes. An endless amount of information is available for those that seek more. B.B. King is like a supernatural force that covers nearly ever place on earth. He is the silver cloud that speaks in the language every one on earth understands, music, specifically the blues. Live on. Enjoy.