Friday, May 15, 2015

'The Thrill is Gone': Blues master B. B. King passes

UPDATE: May 21: On Saturday, a memorial service will be held in Las Vegas. The following Wednesday his remains will be flown to Memphis; from the airport, at around noon, a procession will move to Beale Street’s Handy Park for a tribute. King’s nickname came from his time in this city when he started being called “Blues Boy,” which was later shortened to B.B.
On May 29, a public viewing will be held at the B.B. King Museum in Indianola from 10 5 p.m. The funeral services will be held at the Bell Grove M.B. Church in Indianola on May 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. At approximately 4 p.m., a procession will be led from the church to the Museum, and there will be a private graveside service for family and friends at 5 p.m.
B. B. King, a Mississippi-born master of the blues who influenced Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, passed away Thursday at age 89.

B. B. King
"One of the things that enabled B. B. to have such a profound effect on generations of rock-blues guitarists . . . was [his music's] very accessibility—its emotional accessibility in the high-flying, single-string focus of his soloing, and its musical accessibility in the broad range of sources from which he drew," blues historian Peter Guralnick told Terence McArdle of The Washington Post. "He holds the same place in blues as Louis Armstrong did in jazz. He is an ambassador for the music."

King was often introduced as the world's greatest blues singer, and he could "shout and exhort the blues in a harsh, blustery baritone like a backwoods preacher then caress the words with a soft falsetto plea in the same verse," McArdle writes. His style drew from gospel music and big-band jazz, which garnered a wide audience.

Born on Sept. 16, 1925, on a plantation near Itta Bena, Miss., King strove for self-improvement throughout his life. In 1974, he told music journalist Michael Lydon, "My only ambition is to be one of the great blues singers and be recognized. If Frank Sinatra can be tops in his field, Nat Cole in his, Bach and Beethoven and those guys in theirs, why can't I be great and known for it in the blues?" (Read more)

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