When I heard that the great B.B. King had passed away I, like countless millions of others, had thoughts and memories about it. It’s probably safe to say that many memories that come to mind first are the broad ones, the memories that even casual fans or people who aren’t even blues fans might have.
Everyone knows The Thrill Is Gone. You don’t even have to be a casual fan to know that you’ve probably heard it several times throughout your life and you know B.B. King is the artist who made it so familiar in the consciousness of your mind.
My next memory would be that of my late grandfather (a.k.a. Mr. Big Timer for those of you reading this that knew him). He absolutely loved B.B. King. As far as he was concerned blues started and ended with B.B. King. If a bluesy sounding guitar lick came on the radio, television, record or cassette player and he happened to be in earshot he would immediately ask: “Is that B.B. King?” (He would of course say B.B. Kang, you know how we put that little Southern twist on things). “I love that B.B. King!”
For my grandfather it was B.B. King all alone and unchallenged and then there was everybody else. This sentiment was shared by many people the world over.
From a personal standpoint I think about how cool it was to have the privilege of seeing him perform live.
— Vinny Hardy (@VinnyHardy) May 15, 2015
It’s crazy how fast time flies. My wife and I were living in Kingsport, TN at the time and hadn’t even been married for a year yet. I had heard that B.B. King was coming to Bristol (a hop and a jump away, as the old folks say). I was surprised that he was coming so close. But there he was scheduled to appear in Viking Hall in Bristol, TN. We knew we weren’t about to miss this.
It was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. The Fabulous Thunderbirds opened for B.B. that evening and they did their thing as well.
Tuff Enuff, The Thrill Is Gone and classic after classic after classic. The legends on stage made it a show that no one would ever forget. It was truly once in a lifetime because I only got to see B.B. King once.
Definitely glad I got to see him that one time though.