“Now Father Time is catching up with me
Gone is my youth
I look in the mirror every day
And let it tell me the truth
I’m singing the blues
Mm, I just have to sing the blues
I’ve been around a long time
Yes, yes, I’ve really paid some dues”
– B.B. King, “Why I Sing The Blues” (1969)
Whenever Riley B. King—better known as B.B. King—comes to mind, I think of a real legend; a larger-than-life virtuoso who played the blues better than all; a true master of his craft, and one of the greatest musicians of all time.
B.B. King entered hospice care earlier this month, and while we all feared for the worst and hoped for the best, sadly, he didn’t make it. On May 14, 2015, B.B. King passed away. He was 89.
Nobody will have the type of longevity, or passion for music, like B.B. King had. Born on a cotton plantation in Mississippi on September 16, 1925, B.B. first started playing guitar as a young boy and continued to do so for almost 90 years. 90! Most people can’t even get out of bed once they hit 65, and yet B.B.—arguably the most devoted musician ever—not only continued to crank out the tunes, but toured for as long as he possibly could, oftentimes having to be wheeled out on stage in his last few years. He took to the stage one last time for what would be his final show on October 3, 2014, but fell ill after suffering from dehydration and exhaustion, and never played live again.
B.B. will be remembered as the unquestioned “King of the Blues.” You can have the “King of Rock and Roll” or the “King of Pop” or any other Hall of Famer with “King” in his name; I’ll take the “King of the Blues” over any of ’em. Throw in his trusty sidekick, Lucille, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. The man toured longer than everyone, played to countless fans across the globe, received a number of accolades (including a whopping 15 Grammy awards, as well as a lifetime achievement Grammy), and put on one of the most mesmerizing live shows while occasionally playing a few hundred times a year.
When B.B. King fired away some of his most memorable hits, whether cover songs or originals—”The Thrill Is Gone,” “3 O’Clock Blues,” “Rock Me Baby,” “Don’t Answer The Door,” “Lucille,” “I Like To Live The Love,” “Sweet Sixteen” and the aforementioned “Why I Sing The Blues” all come to mind (among a slew of others)—he delivered with such grace, such flair, that you couldn’t help but become transfixed by the silky-smooth bluesman.
It goes without saying that B.B. King will be greatly missed by all. Father Time may have finally caught up with him, but he had to wait almost 50 years after the “King of the Blues” thought he was going down. Thanks for the tunes, B.B.