“There are so many sounds I still want to make, so many things I haven’t yet done.”
The summer of 1995, while visiting my sister and her husband in France, I heard that the Blues-meister himself, Mr. King was playing up north, just cross the border in Belgium. This was a must-attend for me and my seven Parisian pals. Tickets purchased we jumped into two teeny-tiny vehicles and tag-teamed north.
In “Blues All Around Me,” his autobiography cowritten with David Ritz (1996), he wrote of his gift:
“I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions.”
Hearing and witnessing B.B. (Blues Boy) King pluck away at that guitar, while ferociously crooning his songs, in a concert hall in Europe on a balmy summer’s eve was akin to a fairy tale come true for this small town Ohio-born and bred girl.
He used his guitar well and certainly connected with me that evening, as well as my friends. It was a magical concert on a mythical night that will never leave my memory banks.
Son of a southern sharecropper who has been resoundingly recognized as even more than a blues maestro. He was also unequivocally seen as an ambassador of that same artform.
Mr. B.B. King passed away today, from a series of micro strokes said to have been complicated by ongoing health issues.
Tonight and Monday night, Tavis Smiley, who has interviewed Mr. King on his show, pays tribute to this legendary blues musician in a two-part special.
Part one premieres tonight, Friday, May 15 at 11:00; part two will air on Monday, May 18. Please check your local listings for more information: www.PBS.org
(Image courtesy of Tavis Smiley Productions)