Happy Birthday to B.B. King!
Today is B.B. King’s 87th birthday. Long live the King! I first saw B.B. on a bill with James Cotton and Paul Butterfield at Harvard Stadium. I think it cost $2.25. B.B. shook our hands afterwards and gave my guitar-playing friends embossed guitar picks and words of encouragement. I’ve loved him ever since. Earlier that week, at a cost of $6, I’d seen the Jefferson Airplane at Assumption College. In 1968 dollars, the blues triumvirate cost me 1 ½ hours in minimum wage earnings, whereas Haight-Ashbury flower power required nearly a half-day’s labor. When I factored in the qualities of musicianship and down home vibes that the bluesmen evinced compared with the shoddy playing and arrogance of Grace Slick and Co., that was the last time I got fooled by rock.
Here's a handful of B.B. King masterpieces spanning the years 1968-1978, beginning with a new take of his 1950 classic, "Three O'Clock Blues."
Here’s “Heartbreaker” from 1968 with Sonny Freeman, drums; James Toney, organ; Eddie Rowe, trumpet, Bobby Forte, tenor sax.
Jimmy Walker introduced B.B. to inmates at Sing Sing on Thanksgiving Day 1972 where the King of the Blues offered one of his perennials, “How Blue Can You Get?”
Here he is introducing a 1974 concert in Stockholm that featured an instrumental with solos by Bobby Forte and Eddie Rowe.
And here he welcomes his old "Beale Streeter" colleague from Memphis, Bobby "Blue" Bland, for a 1978 medley that includes"The Thrill Is Gone," "It's My Own Fault," and "Outskirts of Town."