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B.B. King
The Thrill of The Blues Is Alive And Well!

Article By Steven R. Rochlin


B.B. King  Riley B. King, known today simply as B.B. King, is hailed by many as the King of the Blues. Born on September 16, 1925, on a plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi, in his early years he played on street corners for dimes. While his performance schedule is more relaxed than the four towns a night back as he worked in 1947, he is still out there today (at age 76) joyously performing for his ever-wanting fans. In his early years he made it to Memphis in hopes of musical success where his first break came in 1948 while performing on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM out of West Memphis. His talents were recognized and later he enjoyed having a ten-minute placement, called "King's Spot" on the then black staffed and managed Memphis radio station WDIA. The show became popular and a name change to "Sepia Swing Club" was enacted. As for the history of his name, it was changed to Beale Street Blues Boy, then a more catchy and shorter title of Blues Boy King to only be further shortened to simply B.B. King.

Amassing an incredible 74 entries within Billboard's Rhythm and Blues charts over the years, in 1970 his still popular today song "The Thrill Is Gone" brought B.B. King into the limelight including appearing on American Bandstand and also The Ed Sullivan Show. Life has not always been the glitz and glamour for B.B. as he experiences today. Back in the 50's had ran into a then burning building to save his cherished $30 acoustic guitar. Due to the fire being caused by two men fighting over a woman named Lucille, B.B. decided to name his guitar accordingly and the rest, as they say, is HIStory.


Today B.B. King has an enormous and longstanding credits to his talents including many Grammy Awards, being awarded into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980, the Rock & and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, earning various Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian awards, and too many others to fully expand upon here. The same can be said about all the great musicians he has performed with over the past five decades. Today we find B.B. King performing with David Foster and the Shaboo All-Stars at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire for a one-night engagement in Spring 2003.


Editor Steven R. Rochlin With Blues Superstar B.B. King
Editor And Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin With Blues Superstar B.B. King


The concert hall was filled with a virtual sell-out crowd with eager blues music lovers waiting for B.B. King to "preach to the choir". Wish such a vast repertoire to choose from, there were plenty of songs for B.B King to choose from. The set list was as follows:

Six pack (instrumental by the band)
Another instrumental by the band
Let the good times roll
I'll survive
Bad case of love
Peace of mind
Blues boys tune (instrumental)
Early in the morning
Days of old
Three o'clock blues
You are my sunshine
Rock me baby
Key to the highway
The thrill is gone
Please come home for Christmas


Besides the usual great guitar licks and powerful vocals, B.B. King was not only joking around fellow musicians between songs, but also the audience. While much of it seemed a bit canned, it was still wonderful to have a musician get the audience involved and entertained with humor. Each song was a feast for my wanting ears and was played with great enthusiasm. Yes indeed, the thrill of the blues is alive and well in 2003. Have seen B.B. King play before and have also spoken with him at various Grammy Award ceremonies. During the Grammy Awards they were extremely brief encounters, perhaps two minutes each at most. After the concert came the opportunity, thanks to the folks at the Hampton beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire, to sit down with the Master and have a long chat.

Over the years B.B. King seemed more like a commercial entity and not one that has stayed to his roots. A man who has long since forgotten the hard times and is now basking in the decades of easy living. At least that was my opinion of him before meeting with him after the show. My perception could not have been further from the truth! B.B. King is one of the most friendly, deeply spiritual, and engaging musicians i have met in many years. We discussed his past, his love for music, and other topics of interest. The man is truly a saint and a credit to musicians everywhere in the world. Seems my perception was due to the record label's constant marketing of the B.B. King business empire. Ah, well, life as usual for the record executives and accountants. The man himself is what truly makes B.B. King, well, B.B. King.

i highly recommend seeing B.B. King in concert. Whether or not you are a blues fan need not matter, if you enjoy rock 'n roll or jazz, experiencing the music of B.B. King should be a delight to your ears and soul. And if you like what you hear, head right out to your local music store, as there are many great albums by the living legend to be purchased. Of course in the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the music,

Steven R. Rochlin












































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