The Thrill Is Gone: B.B. King Dies at 89

Editor’s Note: We’ve interrupted the planned multi-day run of Gay Talese’s seminal profile of Frank Sinatra to pay tribute to another music giant who passed today. The Sinatra profile will be re-posted at a later date… can just scroll down from this post to find it. 
Transitions: Riley B. King, known all over the world as “B.B.” King (the intials “B.B.” stood for “Blues Boy”, a nickname he picked up in his early years as a DJ at a Memphis radio station) died yesterday at the age of 89. B.B. King became the transcendent blues artist of the last century, playing and recording the blues for over 50 year.  King was possibly the hardest working man in show business; in one year he played 342 live concerts. For most of his professional life, he was on the road 200 to 300 nights a year. Tim Weiner wrote a beautiful tribute to B.B.King that was published in today’s New York Times.
The eloquent, thoughtful, and emphatic piece by Weiner hits all the high points of a man who specialized in singing and playing about  the low points of life. One point about B.B.King as an artist that needs to be re-iterated is that he shared his art in the broadest way possible–every live show not only enlarged his legacy but spread the gospel of the blues to old fans and new converts as well. He was more than a blues musician, he was the ultimate blues evangelist and he took his music everywhere in the world and the world responded with adoration, affection, and appreciation.  He not only influenced a huge generation of musicians, he played with them as well: opening for and playing with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix,  James Brown. One of his best albums was with English disciple Eric Clapton, ‘Riding with the King” (a must-listen).
Today and for weeks to come, there will be literally thousands of words written about B.B. King, his music and his legacy, but we’re not going down that road. We’re going to the heart of the matter: his music. To understand B.B. King you must listen to his music and see him perform. In this post, we feature his classic performance at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1993 (a clip that has been viewed by over 15 million people) of his trademark song, “The Thrill is Gone”. It starts slow and ultra bluesy and ends up rocking and rythym and bluesy. Not to be missed.
The Concert Weekend series for this weekend will feature a selection of B.B. King’s live performances and full -length concerts, so please click back this weekend.  If you have SiriusXM satellite radio, the Bluesville Channel (of which BB was the mayor) is playing nothing but BB King music in tribute.
The King is gone but he will never be forgotten.
Thank you, B.B., for all that you have given us.
The Fine Print. Video via YouTube, courtesy of Eagle Rock( All rights reserved to respective rights holders. Thanks to both YouTube and Eagle Rock for making this performance clip available. 

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