The Man Who Defined the Blues is Still Rocking at 84

Blues guitarist B.B.
Image via Wikipedia

By Rob Minor
Staff Writer

A gorgeous August night at the Bethel Woods Pavilion, in Bethel, NY was the setting for one of the world’s most famous blues guitarists to prove to the audience that at eighty-four he is still whaling on his ax.  B.B King, a man who has set the tone for generations of musicians who have followed, still leaves the crowd awestruck and amazed.  As a Grammy Award-winner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and an inductee into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, Mr. King packs a crowd of all ages.

Setting the stage for Mr. King’s performance was seventy-three year old, national recording artist Buddy Guy.  Born in Lettsworth, Louisiana, Mr. Guy grew up around the corner from the birthplace of the blues.  It was there that he taught himself to play the guitar using only a two-string diddley bow that he constructed by himself.  Mr. Guy’s amazing talent stems from his down-home, bluesy roots.  The energetic performance that night from one of the world’s most talented blues artists prepped the crowd for what was to come next: the king of the blues.

The faces in the crowd at Bethel Woods Pavilion that night were tense as a man walked Mr. King to his chair in the middle of the stage.  Just after being seated, Mr. King picked up his Gibson guitar, which he refers to as Lucille, and began to jam, instantly relieving the tense looks off the faces in the crowd.  Mr. King belted out notes that would send shivers down your spine while singing with the voice of a twenty year old.  As his fingers raced up and down the fret board of his guitar, the crowd slowly weaved back and forth as if they were under some type of hypnotic spell.  Backed by a group of musicians on brass, songs such as “Blues Before Sunrise” and “How Many More Years” could not have sounded better.

At the end of his performance, Mr. King thanked his backup singers and musicians for their unbelievable talent and dedication.  He also thanked his fans for allowing him to do what he loves most, entertain.  He showed his appreciation by signing his autograph to numerous articles being waved in the air by enthusiastic fans.  Those lucky enough to walk away with this musical icon’s signature possess a piece of musical history that won’t be around much longer.

Mr. King began recording music with RPM records in 1949.  Prior to his contract with RPM, Mr. King debuted on Bullet records from which he received negative reviews.  It is clear negative reviews didn’t hold Mr. King back from later rising to the challenge of becoming the world’s best blues musician.  Since the beginning of Mr. King’s career in 1949, he has played over 15,000 shows around the world and compiled nearly forty albums.  Mr. King is still touring non-stop, playing at over twenty venues on this year’s tour.  The enthusiasm this eighty-four year old man still possesses after sixty years of performing proves his love for playing the blues and instilling that same love into the hearts of his followers.

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