Riley B. King

by Bryan from Fredericksburg

B. B. King's Blues face. (B.B. King's Official Website. )
B. B. King's Blues face. (B.B. King's Official Website. )

Riley B. King, or B.B. King as many people know him, is a man I look up to and hope to be like in the future. B.B. King is a very influential blues guitarist, and is one of the “3 King” trio of bluesmen. For those who don’t know, the "3 King" trio is a fan-proclaimed title given to 3 blues guitarists that happen to have the last name King. This trio consists of B.B. King, Freddie King, and Albert King. These 3 men were all very influential in the revolution of Blues Music, and are often recognized as the greatest blues guitarists to ever live; thankfully B.B. King is still alive.

B.B. King has a presence on stage that is just amazing; the audience stops what it is doing and listens to him when he begins to play, and they love every second of it. His feeling as well as his style is mesmerizing, and that’s why he is my hero. As a guitarist myself, I want to be able to play as well as him. His style is very unique and while some people see it as easy, it’s actually hard to play the way he does. Hitting all the notes might be easy, but capturing his feel is a task that could be found equivalent to finding the Holy Grail. That’s one of the many reasons why I look up to B.B. King as a hero figure. His playing is often copied, but never reproduced.

I watch a lot of B.B. King videos and as I see the big smile he always has on his face while he plays, I can’t help but smile myself. One day I hope to play with as much feeling as he does, that’s why I see him as my hero. He plays blues music, but he’s always so happy to be sad. It’s hard to explain, and that’s why I see him as such a great person. To go through all the things he has been through, and to have come up from where he started and still smile, that’s the symbol of a great individual to me. I often play blues when I’m at home; improvising over tracks I find on the Internet. My aunt, who is a big fan of blues music, usually sits in to listen. “Once you get a little older and you’ve experienced life, you will find that the way you play blues will change completely.” I find this to be true, and I think B.B. King has obtained his unmistakable sound because he’s lived for so long. He has so many different emotions mixed up and it just comes out when he plays. To me a guitar is a person’s emotion being channeled through its strings.

“I’m going to do this till I die folks.” This was a something B.B. said to the audience in one of his better known songs, "Key to the Highway," featuring Jeff Beck. His dedication to make other people happy is very admirable. Ever since the beginning of B.B. King's music career, everything he did was for the fans. Many of B.B.’s fans stay very loyal to him because of the respect they are shown at his shows, along with the interaction. My father tells me that B.B. King is a great guy to be around; even though you aren’t really talking to him face to face, he is talking to you with his music, and you talk back with your reaction to it. B.B. King not only is my hero because of his stage performances and talents, but also his charities and community service he is committed to. He plays benefit concerts and donates to charities regularly. He uses his playing to reach out to more people than just those in years past; he’s using his music to better the world and that’s heroic to me.

BB and Lucille (B.B. King's Single album cover)
BB and Lucille (B.B. King's Single album cover)

B.B. King isn’t the only presence to be known on stage either, there’s also Lucille. B.B. King and Lucille have been together almost all of B.B.’s guitar playing life. Everywhere he goes, she’s not far behind, and she has an amazing voice. If you haven’t guessed yet, Lucille is B.B. King's guitar. B.B. King cherishes his guitar as much as his life. Lucille got her name one night when the club that B.B. King played in regularly caught on fire. Two men were arguing over a waitress at the club and knocked over the barrel of fire that kept the place warm. That girl's name was Lucille. After everyone had safely exited the club, B.B. King realized that he had left his guitar inside, so he ran in to get it. “I named her Lucille, and it’s to be a reminder to never do anything that stupid again.” Ever since that moment B.B. King and Lucille have been inseparable; he’s even dedicated songs to her simply named “Lucille” and another more upbeat tune “My Lucille.”

The Bluesman has been an inspiration and a hero to me, and I’m sure many others. I look up to him, and I seek his music for guidance when I’m feeling a little down. Everybody has the blues at some point in their life. One day I hope to play music that reaches people's souls like B.B. King does, and one day I hope to be as helpful to communities everywhere like he is. I’m glad that I have a person like B.B. King to influence me on my journey as a musician and an individual, and maybe I'll influence other people just like him.

Page created on 3/15/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/6/2017 7:19:10 PM

Related Links

BBKING.COM The Official Website
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Read more about B.B. King.
NPR Music - B.B. King artist page: interviews, features and performances archived at NPR Music.
PBS.org - American Roots Music: Oral Histories ~ B.B. King