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article imageOp-Ed: The much loved king of the blues is dead — BB King dead at 89

By Paul Wallis     May 15, 2015 in Entertainment
Las Vegas - BB King, the iconic bluesman who brought blues to the world, has died at age 89. He died at home in Las Vegas. His life, from making $5 a day picking cotton to global superstar, was a true tale of the blues.
BB King is generally considered to be the leading bluesman by musicians, a giant among giants. Few guitarists have ever been so genuinely respected by their peers as King. He played with the modern rock icons like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, and he played around the world, even China and Russia. He’ll be terribly missed by his legion of fans.
King was playing blues for most of his life, and it was a very tough life, for a long time. He started getting attention in the 1950s, and slowly gained a name for himself, basically busking, which he said made him more money than jobs in those days. King, like most bluesmen, was suffering in the 60s from a lack of audience. The black audience had moved on to soul and funk, and blues, like jazz, was in the doldrums. King was booked at the legendary Fillmore in 1968, in the middle of the Summer of Love and acid rock. He saw an audience full of long haired white guys, and said he thought they’d been booked in the wrong place. He came onstage to a standing ovation, and cried at the reception.
King was never short of an audience again. That audience just got bigger over time. The white blues guys revered his work. The very strongly blues based bands like Cream, Mayall’s bands, and the Rolling Stones had been raving about the blues for years, and they basically educated their audiences for King.
BB King is best known for "The Thrill is Gone," a song about his divorce, but his huge body of work includes some of the greatest blues and blues collaborations ever recorded. King went for individual style. He told one young guitarist, “I don’t want you to play like Eric Clapton. If I want Eric Clapton, I’ll call Eric. Play your way.”
He’s one of the few guitarists in any genre to really enforce that idea of personal style. King may be a classic bluesman, but he was never musically stuffy, puritanical or limited by form. If you want to remember BB King, listen to the man. That’s the most appropriate way to remember a unique musician. Check out his website, BB for a full perspective and words from the man himself.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about BB King, blues guitarists, Eric clapton, Keith Richards, John Mayall
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