B.B.’s Gone — The Thrill Isn’t

 

Just yesterday, I was musing over the summer concert calendar — The Who and Stevie Wonder are among those coming to town — and thinking that this may be an expensive few months. Sure, most of these acts are nowhere near the peak of their powers anymore, but I’ve got a long list of people I want to see live before they either retire or move on to trashing hotel rooms in the great hereafter. Unfortunately, one of the entries on that list was B.B. King, who died yesterday at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 89. I don’t, contra one report I read, regard this as “tragic news.” Anyone with even a cursory understanding of the actuarial tables for blues musicians ought to recognize that making it nearly nine decades and dying in your bed is something just short of miraculous. Nonetheless, a legend has passed. But, oh, to be in the front row in heaven tonight when he fires this one up:

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  1. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Well said.  We should be grateful that we had him for so long.

    Lamentably, I was never able to hear him in concert, but I also wasn’t able to attend Ellington’s concert at Newport in ’56.  At least we have records.

    -E

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    You had me at “oh, to be in the front row in heaven tonight when he fires this one up”. Immediate tear in my eye.

    • #2
  3. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @MatthewSinger

    BB, where ever you are now, thank you.  Also, thanks for introducing me to some great talent who opened for you.

    • #3
  4. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    It must be a sign that I am an old fart, but I have difficulty identifying the younger artists of today that will be as iconic in the future culture as BB King, Dizzy Gillespie, Satchmo, Ellington, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, Etta James, et al were in the past. The Marsalis brothers certainly, but after them?

    • #4
  5. user_1008534 Member
    user_1008534
    @Ekosj

    What will become of poor Lucille?

    • #5
  6. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    Ekosj:What will become of poor Lucille?

    I originally thought, “Oh, she should go the Smithsonian.” Now I think, “She should be played by someone who loves life and music.” The line to walk is a thread here—to preserve art or preserve a prized thing.

    • #6
  7. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Truly one of the greatest performers I have ever seen.  When I first heard he was in hospice care, I almost cried at the thought I would never see him in concert again.  As someone who is unimpressed by celebrity and eschews sentimentality, that says a lot.

    • #7
  8. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Rodin:It must be a sign that I am an old fart, but I have difficulty identifying the younger artists of today that will be as iconic in the future culture as BB King, Dizzy Gillespie, Satchmo, Ellington, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, Etta James, et al were in the past. The Marsalis brothers certainly, but after them?

    It’s a sad reflection on our culture that such classy and talented musicians as these would go unnoticed today.  They’ll gain recognition in their field and among fans, but not the culture at large.  That Bobby McFerrin is considered a one-hit-wonder is a shining demonstration of this.

    -E

    • #8
  9. user_1008534 Member
    user_1008534
    @Ekosj

    Hi Rodin.

    Judging from the artists you mentioned I have a CD recommendation :

    “This One’s For Blanton”

    Duke Ellington & Ray Brown in an homage to one time Ellington bassist Jimmy Blanton. Ellington discovered Blanton when Blanton was a kid …19, 20 years old or so. At a time when the bass player was supposed to stand next to the drummer and go ‘thunka thunka thunk’ Blanton was playing melodies high up on the neck and slurring, bending, trilling. He was up to something totally new. Back in 1940 people’s heads were exploding!

    “This One’s For Blanton” is very minimal…just Ellington and Brown and nothing else…no drums, no horns, no vocals. But an Amazing record.

    • #9
  10. user_1008534 Member
    user_1008534
    @Ekosj

    Hi AUMom. Who’s your recommendation to get her? (one of her … I’m sure there are several)

    • #10
  11. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    Ekosj:Hi AUMom.Who’s your recommendation to get her? ( one of her … I’m sure there are several )

    I have no idea. I just know that an instrument needs to be played to give the greatest enjoyment.

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    It was sometime between 1973 and 1977.  I was an undergraduate, and I was either walking to or from my girl friend’s dorm room one night.  As I passed Reynolds Coliseum, I heard raucus applause coming from inside.  Then I remembered:  B.B. King was there.  I paused, and listened to the next song . . . wow!  I was stupid not to get tickets . . .

    • #12
  13. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @JRez

    Matt Singer:BB, where ever you are now, thank you. Also, thanks for introducing me to some great talent who opened for you.

    Indeed – good point, Matt.  First time I saw Joe Bonamassa was 2004 opening for B.B..  Kenny Wayne Shepard rounded out the ticket. So glad I was fortunate enough to see the King tear the place up. Since, I’ve seen Joe live at least 6 times – he’s truly extraordinary (not to compare, of course) and, obviously, now quite famous.

    RIP, Mr. King.

    • #13
  14. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Thank you, Ekosj, I will check it out.

    • #14
  15. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Troy,

     But, oh, to be in the front row in heaven tonight when he fires this one up:

    I guarantee you that Lucille has gone to heaven with him.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
  16. user_1065645 Contributor
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    Apparently he was estranged from his children. They heard about his death from the media.

    So Lucille was probably his greatest love. It should be buried with him with a duplicate placed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    PS: he also made some great BBQ.

    • #16
  17. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I bought a BB King album as a teenager and thought it was okay. Years later, a friend had an extra ticket to see King in a small venue, so I tagged along. Hearing and seeing him live gave me a much deeper appreciation for the blues. The blues is better live — more about performance than arrangement.

    Funny story: A friend of mine had a security job in which he was tasked with guarding Lucille during a concert. Being a Swede, he had no familiarity with blues or King… and had no idea what Lucille looked like. So for a couple hours he guarded the wrong guitar.

    • #17
  18. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Aaron Miller:I bought a BB King album as a teenager and thought it was okay. Years later, a friend had an extra ticket to see King in a small venue, so I tagged along. Hearing and seeing him live gave me a much deeper appreciation for the blues. The blues is better live — more about performance than arrangement.

    Funny story: A friend of mine had a security job in which he was tasked with guarding Lucille during a concert. Being a Swede, he had no familiarity with blues or King… and had no idea what Lucille looked like. So for a couple hours he guarded the wrong guitar.

    Saw him play in the mid-70s and he was wonderful.  You’re right, the blues are better live but if you haven’t heard it get BB King Live at the Regal, recorded in the early 60s.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @KermitHoffpauir

    BB King undoubtedly left his mark on music and is a legend.

    HOWEVER, a friend and I total fans of his soulful playing went to see him in concert in the Spring of 1973, at Contraband Days (2nd largest attendance in Louisiana and even larger than Jazzfest), to the worst concert either of ever attended.  Okay, maybe he had a bad night but his solos were never more than a few notes and he was onstage 15 minutes or so then ended the show.

    • #19
  20. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Kermit Hoffpauir:BB King undoubtedly left his mark on music and is a legend.

    HOWEVER, a friend and I total fans of his soulful playing went to see him in concert in the Spring of 1973, at Contraband Days (2nd largest attendance in Louisiana and even larger than Jazzfest), to the worst concert either of ever attended. Okay, maybe he had a bad night but his solos were never more than a few notes and he was onstage 15 minutes or so then ended the show.

    There must have been something going on in the background.  I saw him and I have friends who saw him in different shows over the past two decades and unanimously it was one of the best shows any had seen.

    • #20
  21. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @KermitHoffpauir

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Kermit Hoffpauir:BB King undoubtedly left his mark on music and is a legend.

    HOWEVER, a friend and I total fans of his soulful playing went to see him in concert in the Spring of 1973, at Contraband Days (2nd largest attendance in Louisiana and even larger than Jazzfest), to the worst concert either of ever attended. Okay, maybe he had a bad night but his solos were never more than a few notes and he was onstage 15 minutes or so then ended the show.

    There must have been something going on in the background. I saw him and I have friends who saw him in different shows over the past two decades and unanimously it was one of the best shows any had seen.

    Both Paul and I were sorely disappointed.  Not many name acts came around our way either.

    • #21
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