Just so you know… in the background is B.B. playing the Newport Folk Festival on July 27,1968. The blues have a way of just piercing the soul. Mmm… I wish you could hear what I am hearing… Well, I guess you can… Go to Wolfgang’s Vault or just Google it… Even though I am downhearted… there is joy in the Blues!
From the field hollers to the work songs, the Blues were quite literally born out of a harsh, frustrating and difficult life. They took that tragedy and made it into something artistic… made it into music..
Riley B. King was born on a cotton plantation on September 16, 1925. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, received the National Medal of Arts in 1990 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006… and in between, he played a hell of a lot of music… a hell of a lot of shows… and made a hell of a lot of us happy. He became a legend, an icon, a true ambassador of the Blues… and he will be missed… a lot.
I had the good fortune of going to school just outside of Chicago… and while I am not pleased with my university at the moment (something political that won’t be discussed here), I was exposed to some of the best Jazz and Blues you will ever hear… and I got to see some of the best names in music. I learned how to blow Blues harmonica in Chicago.
I will never forget Kingston Mines, Biddy Mulligans, Blues, etc., Mama Rosa’s… and I will never forget the greats I got to see… Albert King, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, James Cotton, Fenton Robinson, Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and of course B.B. King!
I saw him many times… I saw him standing… I saw him sitting, which sadly he had to do a lot at the end… and I saw him last year at The Greek, where he spoke for almost the entire time, with barely a guitar lick here or there… Many people were pissed… and I was a bit disappointed myself… He spent so much time talking about someone’s popcorn in the front row… but is what it was… and he was 88 years old at the time… 88!!! I likened it to holding court with royalty… with the King… We were literally having an audience with the King. When Peter Frampton came out to play with him, that was the highlight… and it really seemed to rejuvenate him. There was so much mutual love and respect… and I will keep that image in my mind for a long time.
The fact remains, that this man was a true legend… and one of the last of his kind. Who is left? What Bluesman can take this mantle? Buddy Guy perhaps? Perhaps a woman will lead the way… Are you ready Bonnie Raitt?
And so Lucille is put away in her plush case… The man who made her cry and sing is no more… But we are here… singing… and now crying… Because that is the Blues. Goodnight and G-d bless, B.B. King. You get to rest now… until your next concert upstairs!