We lost one of the last true legends of the blues last week – maybe B.B. King is the last living legend of the blues.
Nobody else alive goes back as far he did, nobody else is left who can say they grew up as a sharecropper, and nobody has a playlist even one-third as long as his. How many living guitarists could claim to be more legendary, and who would e foolish enough to say it? B.B. King was an institution and we are never going to see the likes of him again.
About two years ago, I was lucky enough to catch my first (and unfortunately, my last) B.B. King show in New Orleans. At the time, he was starting to show his age, sitting down for most of the set, and singing in something less than the congenial roar he had been capable of. I remember I made a crack to a friend, saying “Give the guy a break. He’s over 85 years old, and this probably his 10,000th live performance.” Thinking back on that I probably underestimated his live output. A notorious road warrior, King probably averaged somewhere around 200 shows per year, and he played steadily since circa 1950. How does anybody compete with that?
Some time, hopefully ion the near future, we will feature a “How Music Changed” series dedicated to B.B. King, but in honor of a life dedicated to American blues music, we offer this short overview of a few highlights from his recorded output. You’ll have to listen to hear what songs we feature- we’re gonna wing this one as we go along.
Rest In Peace - you've earned it.
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