B.B. King: the 100 most inspiring musicians of all time
B.B. King, American guitarist and singer, (born Riley B. King, (b. Sept. 16, 1925, Itta Bena, near Indianola, Miss., U.S.) was a principal figure in the development of blues and from whose style leading popular musicians
B.B. King was reared in the Mississippi Delta, and gospel music in church was the earliest influence on his singing. To his own impassioned vocal calls, King played lyrical single-string guitar responses with a distinctive vibrato;
his guitar style was influenced by T-Bone Walker, by delta blues players (including his cousin Bukka White), and by such jazz guitarists as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian. He worked for a time as a disk jockey in
Memphis, Tennessee (notably at station WDIA), where he acquired the name B.B. (for Blues Boy) King.
In 1951, B.B. King made a hit record of “Three O’Clock Blues,” which led to virtually continuous tours of clubs and theaters throughout the country. He often played 300 or more one-night stands a year with his 13-piece band. A long succession of hits, including “Every Day I Have the Blues,” “Sweet Sixteen,” and “The Thrill Is Gone,” enhanced his popularity.
By the late 1960s, rock guitarists acknowledged his influence and priority; they introduced King (and his guitar—which was named Lucille) to a broader white public, who until then had heard blues chiefly in derivative versions.
King’s relentless touring strengthened his claim to the title of undisputed king of the blues, and he was a regular fixture on the Billboard charts through the mid-1980s. His strongest studio albums of this era were those that most closely tried to emulate the live experience, and he found
commercial success through a series of all-star collaborations.
On Deuces Wild (1997), King enlisted such artists as Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric Clapton to create a fusion of blues, pop, and country that dominated the blues charts for almost two years. Clapton and King collaborated on the more straightforward blues album Riding with the King (2000), which featured a collection of standards from King’s catalog.
He recaptured the pop magic of Deuces Wild with 80 (2005), a celebration of his 80th birthday that featured Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, and a standout
performance by Elton John. King returned to his roots with One Kind Favor (2008), a collection of songs from the 1940s and ’50s, including blues classics by the likes of John Lee Hooker and Lonnie Johnson. Joining King in the simple four-part arrangements on the T-Bone Burnett–produced
album were stalwart New Orleans pianist Dr. John, ace session drummer Jim Keltner, and stand-up bassist Nathan East. The album earned King his 15th Grammy Award.
In 2008, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in Indianola, with exhibits dedicated to King’s music, his influences, and the history of the delta region. King’s autobiography, Blues All Around Me, written with David Ritz, was published in 1996.
Jazz transcriptions and sheet music download here.
B.B. King Greatest Hits Full Album – B.B. King Blues Best Songs Full Album
0:00 Blues Boys Tune 7:11 Three O’clock Blues 9:19 How Blue Can You Get 12:50 I Believe To My Soul 18:41 Why I Sing The Blues 24:59 I Like To Live The Love 29:08 Rock Me Baby 34:16 The Thrill Is Gone 38:23 Better Not Look Down 44:42 I Woke Up This Morning 50:09 Eyesight To The Blind 53:32 To Know You Is To Love You 57:18 Everyday I Have The Blues 1:03:39 Don’t Answer The Door
“I struggle with words. Never could express myself the way I wanted. My mind fights my mouth, and thoughts get stuck in my throat. Sometimes they stay stuck for seconds or even minutes. Some thoughts stay for years; some have stayed hidden all my life. As a child, I stuttered. What was inside couldn’t get out. I’m still not real fluent. I don’t know a lot of good words. If I were wrongfully accused of a crime, I’d have a tough time explaining my innocence. I’d stammer and stumble and choke up until the judge would throw me in jail. Words aren’t my friends. Music is. Sounds, notes, rhythms. I talk through music. Maybe that’s why I became a loner, someone who loves privacy and doesn’t reveal himself too easily.
My friendliness might fool you. Come into my dressing room and I’ll shake your hand, pose for a picture, make polite small talk. I’ll be as nice as I can, hoping you’ll be nice to me. I’m genuinely happy to meet you and exchange a little warmth. I have pleasant acquaintances with thousands of people the world over. But few, if any, really know me. And that includes my own family. It’s not that they don’t want to; it’s because I keep my feelings to myself. If you hurt me, chances are I won’t tell you. I’ll just move on. Moving on is my method of healing my hurt and, man, I’ve been moving on all my life.
Now it’s time to stop. This book is a place for me to pause and look back at who I was and what I became. As I write, I’m seventy hears old, and all the joy and hurts, small and large, that I’ve stored up inside me…well, I want to pull ’em out and put ’em on the page. When I’ve been described on other people’s pages, I don’t recognize myself. In my mind, no one has painted the real me. Writers have done their best, but writers have missed the nitty-gritty. Maybe because I’ve hidden myself, maybe because I’m not an easy guy to understand. Either way, I want to open up and leave a true account of who I am.
When it comes to my own life, others may know the cold facts better than me. Scholars have told me to my face that I’m mixed up. I smile but don’t argue. Truth is, cold facts don’t tell the whole story. Reading this, some may accuse me of remembering wrong. That’s okay, because I’m not writing a cold-blooded history. I’m writing a memory of my heart. That’s the truth I’m after – following my feelings, no matter where they lead. I want to try to understand myself, hoping that you – my family, my friends, my fans – will understand me as well.
This is a blues story. The blues are a simple music, and I’m a simple man. But the blues aren’t a science; the blues can’t be broken down like mathematics. The blues are a mystery, and mysteries are never as simple as they look.”
― B.B. King, Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King
- Libertango (Piano Solo) – Astor Piazzola
- Milonga del Angel by Astor Piazzolla (arr. piano solo)
- Oblivion (A. Piazzolla) Two pianos – pianists Argerich and Hubert
- Out of Africa – music by John Barry (piano solo)
- Oblivion (Astor Piazzolla) by Nadja Kossinskaja,guitar (with sheet music)
- Erik Satie (composer and pianist) (1866-1925)