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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Artist of the Day: B.B. King


He has been coined the ‘Reigning King of the Blues’ and has recorded music for four decades, now, Riley B. King or most notably B.B. King, a vital persona in the history of blues music and the man responsible for inspiring artists such as John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, just to name a few, will be doing Athens the honor of playing live at the Classic Center on Friday, October 2. 

The 84-year-old legend has spent his entire life devoted to music.  Born on September 16, 1925 in a small town in Mississippi, King made his way out of the south and into the hustle and bustle of LA in 1949, getting his first recording contract with RPM Records.

After switching to several other labels along the way, and amassing numerous honors and awards, Riley B. King has become a permanent staple in the blues and R&B genre.  Some of his achievements include:
1)      Winning a Grammy Award for the song, “The Thrill Is Gone.”
2)      Getting inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980.
3)      Winning the International Polar Award in 2004, which recognizes artists who have “exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music.”

But, these achievements are only scratching the surface of King’s feats as an internationally recognized artist.  So far in his career, he has won 15 Grammy Awards and was ranked #3 in Rolling Stone’s the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

With all of these successes, you would think King would have an ego bigger than the universe, but in an interview with UK’s Telegraph in May of 2009, it was found that the bluesman is anything but “full of himself”

“In 2008 Rolling Stone magazine put out an article on the 100 best guitarists. Now I forget, but it seems to me like they put me in the top five,” King said.  “I don’t agree with that. You mention Barney Kessel, George Benson, some of them older guys – man, I couldn’t hold a candle to them. That’s why I say I’m still learning.”
“I have a motto – I guess that’s a good word – if I don’t learn something new every day, it’s a day lost.”
It’s this kind of modesty that resonates so well with King’s fans.  And with numerous hits ranking number 1 on the R&B charts in the ‘50s, such as “Three O’ Clock Blues” and “Please Love Me,” along with a discography full of albums that span the years of 1957 thru 2009, King has shown, throughout his career, his love of music and will forever be a musical figure for artists to look up to.
There are still tickets available for Friday night’s show, which will feature special guest, indie folk singer-songwriter Rachel Cantu.

Click here for tickets.

And while you’re at the show, look out for Riley B. King’s signature guitar, a Gibson ES-355, which has been coined as ‘Lucille’ ever since a show in 1949, where King and the rest of the audience were evacuated after a fire broke out.  Realizing that his acoustic ES-355 was still inside the venue, B.B. raced back inside to recover his precious instrument.  Once the fire was put out, it was announced that two people perished in the flames—two men who were fighting over a woman named ‘Lucille’.  The rest is history.

And here’s a little taste of the brilliance that is B.B. King:

-          Jessica Cole

Currently Listening to:  “How Blue Can You Get?” by B.B. King

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