Friday, May 15, 2015

No, No - No. The King is Dead. B.B. Riley King, Dead at 89.

When he announced last week that he was out of hospital but in hospice care at home it was fair warning that the life of Riley B. King had come down to a matter of weeks, maybe a few months.  12 days later this legendary bluesman is gone.  That's a void that will take some time and some amazing talent to fill.

Yet that's the thing about blues.  It builds, legend upon legend.  Here's one for Mr. King, from 1964, Howlin' Wolf and Smokestack Lightning.


In case you didn't notice, the Wolf is about 6 feet wide and just over 9 feet tall and those hands?  They're the size of catchers' mitts.

Here, from The Telegraph about six years back, B.B. King, the last of the legendary bluesmen.

And this:

Last of the great bluesmen?  No, I don't believe it.  There'll be new talent, it's already there, and it will build on everything before it.  Just about every form of pop/rock can evaporate to nothingness but whatever lasts longest is what's closest to real blues.

This stuff goes straight to the slave south.  It was introduced to white culture during my adolescence by Brit bands, especially the Stones.  They got a generation of young people "discovering" Delta and Chicago blues.  Hell, we'd been brought up on Pat Boone and what was whitebread copies of "race music." Then, quite abruptly, we heard this music from The Beatles, the Stones (especially Richards/Jagger) and saw this whole new musical path that took us so far past but also forward.


Unknown said...

Ahh B.B., I wanted you to live forever!

Unknown said...

Hi Mound, You may have already seen this documentary, but if not it is called. The Blues: Red, White and Blues by Martin Scorsese. It talks about the blues influencing the Brit Bands and these bands in turn exposing the blues to white American audiances. There are also some incredible blues musicians and performers like Sister Loretta Tharpe who are also shown. It is a great story of the blues.

The Mound of Sound said...

I haven't seen the Scorcese doc, Pamela, but I expect I will before long. There are other fine blues guitarists but what set King, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters and their group apart was that they were born into the southern black poverty tradition. King was no stranger to picking cotton to get by.

King told a reporter that playing the blues and being black was like being black twice.