The Thrill is not Gone…
The Thrill is Gone. The King of the Blues, Blues Boy King – BB King passed away on 14th May 2015. He was 89.
Considered one of the most hardworking and respectable Blues musician, performing for more than 300 days in a year, BB King and his signature guitar Lucille thrilled audiences around the globe for almost 60 years.
Born a King, in the cotton fields of Mississippi into a family of sharecroppers in 1925, orphaned at a very early stage in his life and growing up in some of the harshest conditions at that time, BB King hit No. 1 on the R & B charts in 1951 with the suicidal single “Three O’ Clock Blues”. No turning back after that.
Widely known for his 1971 hit “The Thrill is Gone” that earned him a Grammy for R&B Best Male Vocal performance in 1971, he went on to garner another 14 Grammy’s and a Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2006, he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A rarity for the Blues. One of the most awesome on-stage Blues guitarist, rateyourmusic.com lists 86 studio albums, 19 Live Albums and 152 singles by BB King.
In 1999, Mr. King recounted how he came to sing the blues.
“Growing up on the plantation there in Mississippi, I would work Monday through Saturday noon,” he said. “I’d go to town on Saturday afternoons, sit on the street corner, and I’d sing and play.
“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.” (Extracted from the NY Times-15th May 2015).
With his signature string bending technique and ringing vibrato, BB King influenced and inspired virtually all the great blues and rock guitarists.
A jazz musician friend once remarked cynically, “what’s so great with a 3 chords blues?” I told him “checkout BB King’s Live at Montreux in 1997 with Jeff Healey, Ronnie Earl and others, jamming on Thrill is gone, and singing You’re Gonna Miss Me”. Thrilling the audience for 25 minutes with just one song. He was not just a master. He was BB King.
With Lucille, BB had so many great songs – Thrill is Gone, In the Midnight Hour, Midnight Believer, How Blue Can You Get, Humming Bird, Rock Me Baby, Ghetto Woman, Whole Lotta Love, You Upset Me Baby, Let the Good Times Roll, Don’t Answer the Door, Three O’ Clock Blues, Better Not Look Down, Why I Sing the Blues, When Love Comes to Town, Everyday I Got the Blues, Sweet Sixteen, and so many more.
No fancy technical stuff, speed and cutting-edge time. A King of One Note… but the timing and the distinct sound of that one note and his throaty voice was what made BB King “The King of Blues”. That note was all he needed to resonate with the audience. Musicians play to the beat. BB however, played to the heartbeat. That was the difference. “I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions,” Mr. King said in his 1996 autobiography, “Blues All Around Me”.
While others had long gone, BB King and Buddy Guy kept it going and now that the King is gone, we all going to be sorry.
To musicians, he said, “We all have idols, play like anyone you care about, but try to be yourself while you’re doing so”.
The Thrill is Gone Mr. King. Rest in Peace. Yes, this time, We Are Gonna Miss you Mr. King.
But for us, The Thrill will Never go Away. The Blues Don’t Change!
RODIN JS KUMAR
18 MAY 2015
P/S Check out BB King’s YouTube Videos. Some have hit more than 18 million views.