Friday Night with Guitar George: BB King Memorial Tribute

The Thrill indeed is gone. Last night we lost legendary bluesman B.B. King, one of the undisputed Mount Rushmore figures in American music history.

Over his six decade career King produced an impressively large volume of audio and video recordings, most of which can be found on the internet. In an attempt on short notice to produce a thumbnail sketch of King’s work, I have selected a few recordings that represent a modest sampling of a lifetime too rich and broad to be sufficiently defined by such an effort. My purpose is not to approximate a comprehensive overview, but merely to provide a few “launching spots” from which I strongly urge you to commence your own journey down the King’s Highway.

@KylesLife27 and @garland_angst discussed King’s album Live in Cook County Jail in the Week One Edition of The 500. The complete album can be heard here. Also recorded in a prison, this performance was described by King himself as one of his best. The rawness of these performances is contrasted by the pristine studio production of this 2000 album of duets by King and one of his most devoted disciples, Eric Clapton. It is abundantly clear that master and student both are enjoying the collaboration.

Tonight’s featured video is a personal favorite: a stunning display of King’s talents both as a singer and as a guitarist. How is it humanly possible to feel the blues as strongly as the voice conveys while simultaneously caressing the frets and strings with such precision and restraint?

Rest in Peace, Riley B. King. You don’t have to be blue any more.

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