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PostB. B. King, 1925-2015 (Randy Black, USA, 05/17/15 2:55 pm)
I met a great man in the summer of 1986. He was the opening act on the opening night of Dallas' first Hard Rock Café. I was there on behalf of a long defunct magazine. This gentle man was one of America's greatest blues musicians. He was B. B. King, 89, and he died May 14 at his home in Las Vegas.
At the Hard Rock, I got a chance to chat with Mr. King for about five minutes before his opening act.
During my short visit with Mr. King, I asked where he was born and where the name BB came from. He told me he was born on a Mississippi plantation and named Riley. As a young man, playing on a black radio station in Memphis, he said he needed a "handle," a nickname. "Blues Boy" was the name someone suggested and later evolved into BB, which stuck. My final brief interview of the night at the Hard Rock was with Dan Aykroyd. The MC of the opening night festivities was legendary bandleader Paul Shaffer!
It was quite a night. I still have many of the "slides" that I shot that evening. One photo is attached.
Final note that I discovered about BB King some years ago: His guitar was named Lucille. Over the years, he played many guitars but Lucille was always the name, even when he played his signature Gibson ES-355s.
He named it Lucille, the story goes, dating to his early days in Arkansas. He was playing in a honky-tonk in some backwater. A couple of fellows got in a fight and BB made a run for it when one of the fighters knocked over a stove starting a fire.
Outside, he realized he'd left his guitar inside. He went back into the burning building to retrieve it. He later learned that the fight was over a woman named Lucille. Thus, he named that guitar, and all that came after it, Lucille to remind himself to never fight over a woman.
I heard him tell this story during a TV interview once and thought about the tale when I learned of his death two days ago.
From his 1970s hit:
The thrill is gone.
The thrill is gone away from me.
Although I'll still live on,
But so lonely I'll be.
JE comments: Photo below. My thanks to Randy Black for this touching farewell to a legend:
B. B. King, Dallas, 1986. Photo Randy Black