In Honor Of Mr. B.B. King

I haven’t written a blog lately but while surfing on Facebook I came across a story that I wanted to comment on so , here ya go;
Recently, apparently (if you believe what you read on the inter-web), Blues Legend, Multi-GRAMMY winner, Blues Hall Of Famer, Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer, B.B. King was “heckled” at a performance in St Louis, MO. According to the report, he was telling a lot of stories and not playing much and the audience became restless and some walked out while others shouted for him to play. If this is true, I am ashamed of the audience who would treat an icon in such a way.
B.B. King is probably responsible (both directly and indirectly) for 98% of the guitarists in every genre of contemporary music today. His body of work speaks for itself and the fact that at 88 years old he still wants to go on tour and perform every night is amazing in and of itself. In my humble opinion, if you go to see B.B. King perform in 2014, at 88 years old, you shouldn’t expect Live At The Regal. Any of you 50 year olds out there rocking it like you did at 18?
I last saw B.B. about a year or so ago in Nashville, on a bill with Buddy Guy. Buddy opened the show (as he always does when he and B.B. play together, out of supreme respect) and, of course, lit the place on fire. B.B. came out and sat down and told stories and talked to the audience and played some but it felt more like he was visiting with old friends. This is a man who’s family basically consists of the audiences he’s played in front of for the last 65 years. I had the opportunity to see B.B. in the late 80’s and through the 90’s. He was incredible every night and played with a fire that I hope I have when I reach his age.
The reality of this business is that there is no retirement. I’ve heard people say “why does so-and-so still tour? They can’t need the money”, the truth is any musician who has been in this business long enough to call it a career isn’t doing it for the money. Money’s great and we all need it to pay the bills and buy our stuff but there are WAY easier ways to make WAY more money than criss-crossing the planet, living out of a suitcase and spilling you blood and soul on a stage every night and hoping you’re accepted. When I refer to musicians, don’t confuse that with “musicians” that are using the music business as one of the paths to CELEBRITY which has become the most prevalent drug in our culture.
I would never presume to speak for B.B. but I can only imagine that I would get on that bus every night because it’s what I do, it’s all I know to do. To say nothing of the people who work for him and depend on the salary. And maybe, just maybe, he loves it. I know I do.
My advice to you is this; If B.B. King’s coming to a town near you and you want to see him stand up and play Everyday I Have The Blues and Sweet Sixteen, stay home and listen to Live At Cook County Jail. If you go to the show, go to applaud and thank a man who has devoted his life to entertaining the residents on Planet Earth for 65 years and counting. Go just for the experience of being able to say “I saw B.B. King live, I shared air with the man for a brief time and had a chance through my presence and applause to thank him for his art.”
If I could speak directly to B.B., I’d like to say; “Thank you, Mr. King for your art, your direction, guidance, entertainment, for hitting that one note that makes us forget about the light bill for a while. I hope to see you many more times and that for the rest of your career your met with audiences that are only expressions of love and respect.”

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4 responses to “In Honor Of Mr. B.B. King

  1. Very well said Scott. Music, and blues in particular, is really all about “payin’ your dues” and B.B. King has certainly paid his and then some…far more than us common folk ever will. Anyone who is willing to stand up and claim that they will be better than that at age 88 can feel free to heckle…otherwise shut your mouths and show some respect for one of the true greats!

    Sorry I missed you at Shaw’s last time…catch you next time!

  2. Hey Scott,

    It breaks my heart to hear this kind of thing. I would give my right arm to be able to hear Mr. King share some of his personal stories. There is nothing, in my opinion anyway, that makes you feel closer to someone than being given the opportunity to share a bit of their life. I love B.B. King the musician but admire and have such great awe and respect for B.B. King the man. You are righht that at 88, to think he is still giving us a chance to see and hear him is nothing short of amazing. Shame on ANYONE that would walk out on a man of his talent but that they would be stupid to have lost an opportunity that so many, myself included, would be so grateful for.

    Thank you for speaking out and sharing this.

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