Mr. King went out on the road and never came back after one of his first recordings reached the top of the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1951. He began in juke joints, country dance halls and ghetto nightclubs, playing 342 one-night stands in 1956 and 200 to 300 shows a year for a half-century thereafter, rising to concert halls, casino main stages and international acclaim. [New York Times]
THE MAN was in love with a lady with swerving hips, who never failed him. Her name was Lucille and she was guitar. In the world of music, there was no one like him and never will be again. B.B. King was blues and he was also the man who put it on the map for so many white people across America.
When he saw “long-haired white people” lining up outside the Fillmore, he said, he told his road manager, “I think they booked us in the wrong place.” Then the promoter Bill Graham introduced him to the sold-out crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King.”
“Everybody stood up, and I cried,” Mr. King said. “That was the beginning of it.”
Mr. King reportedly had 15 children with 15 different lovers.
The story of how he ended up a blues singer, and a multimillionaire many times over is classic.
“I’d have me a hat or box or something in front of me. People that would request a gospel song would always be very polite to me, and they’d say: ‘Son, you’re mighty good. Keep it up. You’re going to be great one day.’ But they never put anything in the hat.
“But people that would ask me to sing a blues song would always tip me and maybe give me a beer. They always would do something of that kind. Sometimes I’d make 50 or 60 dollars one Saturday afternoon. Now you know why I’m a blues singer.”
Thanks for the music, for those sweet and nasty guitar licks, Mr. King. You’ve walked on but the thrill you gave everyone will never be gone.