RIP B.B.King

Battling unrelenting racism and the humiliation of segregation whilst working in the cotton fields as an orphaned child, King lived to overcome the toughest critics in the entertainment industry and ultimately be hailed as one of the kingpins of an entire genre of music.(

Over the years, B.B. developed one of the world’s most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of rock guitarist’s vocabulary. His economy, his every-note-counts phrasing, has been a model for thousands of players, from Eric Clapton and George Harrison to Jeff Beck. B.B. mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound. In B.B.’s words, “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.”  (


I know he influenced my family’s lives. All the guys in our family took guitar lessons, and their teacher was always handing them B.B.King CDs to listen to. We’ve listened to a lot of his music over the years as they learned from the master like so many of today’s great blues and rock & roll guitarists did. His influence on other musicians and the music he leaves behind is a wonderful legacy. Here’s one bit of advice from Mr. King, that we can all use no matter what craft or job we’re trying to learn and excel at…  “We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about, but try to be yourself while you’re doing so.”
Last Modified on June 25, 2015
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