Anyone wanting to be as good as BB King has pretty big shoes to fill, but will there be ever be another BB King?
By: Ringo Bones
Like most wannabe guitar player who became aware of blues based music’s life changing – especially in the financial front – effects during the 1970s and the 1980s, it is quite hard to live in a world deprived of one of the greatest bluesman who ever lived named BB King who, sadly, passed away in May 14, 2015. Born back in September 16, 1925 in Berclair, Mississippi to parents who were sharecroppers in the pre Civil Rights era south and like most African American music enthusiasts at the time, the segregated church is mainly the only means to learn the rudiments of musicianship via Gospel. But during his teens as a guitarist with above average abilities, the young BB King soon found out that playing the blues pays better than playing Gospel in church.
His big break for all intents and purposes came in 1969 when he opened for the Rolling Stone’s American tour and thus acquired an international fanbase that even his favourite Gibson semi-hollow electric guitar in which he christened “Lucille” became inextricably linked with his avant garde and yet likable style of blues. I mean his signature fast vibrato has influenced generations of musicians who first heard of him during the latter half of the 1960s. And let’s not forget that BB King will be immortalized in the pantheon of African American music gods when he played with James Brown during the Rumble of the Jungle’s musical festivities.
Younger fans probably knew BB King during his Rattle and Hum sessions with U2 during the latter half of the 1980s. And as a hallmark of his guitar playing skill, BB King managed to make a solid-state guitar amplifier that was well-known as a “bargain-basement” product during the 1970s – i.e. the now legendary solid-state Gibson Lab Series guitar amplifiers sound like a full blown vacuum tube gear that made every guitar enthusiasts wanting to emulate his tone and technique assumed for years that BB King had always played the 6L6 vacuum tube equipped 1965 Fender Twin. The musical world will be a sadder place without him.