R.I.P. B.B. King

bb king

Yesterday, the world lost the Blues Man’s Blues Man. B.B. King died yesterday in his sleep at the age of 89.

Anyone who’s ever thought about playing the blues or its descendants even half-seriously has listened to and “borrowed” a lick of two from his playing. You’ll hear a lot of guitarists go on about how they borrowed a trick or two from him, but I’d wager that at least a couple of keyboard players — me included — were inspired by King. A good number of my own organ, synth and accordion blues scale runs, pitch bends, and bellows shakes come straight from playing along to recordings of Lucille (both the song and the guitar after which it’s named). I used to own an Ensoniq EPS sampling keyboard with samples from King’s How Blue Can You Get?, and so did Primitive Radio Gods, because they used them in their 1996 single, Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand.

Rather than go on about his life, I’ll simply point you to article on him in Wikipedia, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, and The Washington Post, as well as Javier Alor’s collection of 79 B.B. King YouTube videos. Pour a bourbon, crank up the volume, play it, and drink to B.B. King.

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