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B.B. King, Rhythm and Blues singer (1925-2015)

Discussion in 'The Musiquarium' started by LDEJRuff, May 15, 2015.

  1. LDEJRuff

    LDEJRuff Wish-making dog lover

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    Yep, you read right. He passed away last night at 9:40, due to high blood pressure and diabetes. He was 89.
     
  2. Toon Master

    Toon Master Active Member

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    Man, this sucks. He was in bad health recently, and this was expected, but it still sucks that he's gone. R.I.P. Mr. King, you will be missed but your music will live on.
     
  3. Peter Paltridge

    Peter Paltridge Knows about rock people
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    His diabetes got him an ad for diabetic medicine. "OOOOOOH IT HURTS ME SO BAD"

    No one sounded like BB, and I agree, his music will play for a long time because it's not easily duplicated.
     
  4. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
    Staff Member Moderator Reporter

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    I've been posting about B.B. all day on my Facebook account. I'm copying some of it here, starting mostly from the end.

    It was 1991 in my junior year of college when I found out B.B. King was going to be playing at Toad's Place in New Haven. I was mostly a classic rock/80's pop guy musically, majorly into Eric Clapton, and believing I was into guitars (though puzzled why I didn't like guys like Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai). I didn't know anything about B.B. King other than that lots of guys said great things about him, and the Beatles name-checked him on "Let It Be." But that was enough to get me to scratch up the princely cover charge of $25 and a fake ID to get in to see him.

    It was about a third of the way through the show when I figured out it wasn't guitars I was reacting to in my favorite music. It was the blues.

    So much of who I am now can be drawn from that show. The overwhelming amount of music I own and listen to regularly is either B.B. King or because of B.B. King, starting with the 2-disc Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Collection I bought the weekend after seeing B.B. at Toad's. There was a stretch of years when I saw B.B. once a year for maybe 5 or 6 years. One year I think I saw him three times. It was me complaining that nobody wanted to go to blues shows in NYC that led my brother and his resident to say, "Hey, we know someone in New York who says the same thing, you should call her." I did. We've been married for 16 years now.

    For me, the passing of B.B. King is roughly equivalent to Paul, Ringo, and all the living members of the Rolling Stones all dying at once. I love their music, I still listen to it, and I get how big they are in the rock world. But B.B. King got me to buy a guitar and try to learn how to play the blues.

    Rest in peace, Blues Boy. And thanks for everything.
     
  5. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
    Staff Member Moderator Reporter

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    As a guitar player, B.B. King developed his string-bending and vibrato techniques because he couldn't play slide guitar. Bending and vibrato were the ways he simulated the sound of someone playing slide, but B.B.'s techniques defined how people played guitar for decades afterwards. Relatively few guitar players play slide regularly, but nearly everyone bends and uses vibrato, and every single one of them owes it to B.B. King.

    The moral of this story is that a weakness isn't always a failing, and it sure doesn't mean you should give up. Stick to it and maybe you can change the way everyone else does it. Worked for B.B.

    [video=youtube;39dPVgaC8rM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39dPVgaC8rM[/video]

    You can see and hear B.B. using both bending and vibrato in the video clip above, apparently taken from the Crossroads Music Festival in 2010. There's a stream of musicians paying homage to the King, including Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and Jimmy Vaughn (Stevie Ray's older brother), and at the end it looks like Susan Tedeschi, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, and I think Keith Richards all walk out, too. B.B.'s 85 years old, maybe missing a note or two, but he's still the King of the Blues. This may also be one of the best late career takes I've ever heard of "The Thrill is Gone." FWIW, the fellow in the necktie near the end of the video is playing slide on a pedal steel guitar. That's the sound that B.B. was trying to imitate when he came up with string bending and his specific vibrato technique.
     
  6. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
    Staff Member Moderator Reporter

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    One last video, one last story, one last photo.

    The video is a cartoon B.B. King animated over an interview with the man, courtesy of PBS Digital Studios. We're Toonzone. Of course I'm going to love this. He recounts the story of why he named all his guitars Lucille, along with some stories I've heard before and some that are new.

    [video=youtube;-tIphqWYu_s]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tIphqWYu_s[/video]

    Last story: one of the last B.B. King shows I went to in the late 90's/early 00's was at the Blue Note in New York City. It's a small enough space that I gambled he'd be close enough for me to wave a CD and a pen at him at some point.

    Turns out I was right.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Wonderwall

    Wonderwall Moderator
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    That's so cool that you got that signed Ed. I think one of my favorite videos is him singing Thrill is Gone in Africa.
     

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