B.B.KiNG : La Grâce Royale

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Riley B. King aka


(16 septembre 1925 – 14 mai 2015)


BeeBopitone n° 8


10 raisons pour lesquelles B.B.King est le plus grand et le plus influent guitariste électrique (et pour un bon moment encore)

B.B.King ! He was the great exponent of the blues. The man who made his guitar express every imaginable blues emotion. The blues legend everyone admired. The man who played for Presidents and a musician so well known that his guitar, which he named Lucille, was known to every lover of the blues.

1. He first came to the attention of rock ‘n’ roll audiences in 1965 when Mike Bloomfield, the guitarist with the Butterfield Blues Band, playing on the band’s debut album, was asked how he had learned to play. The answer: “By copying BB’s licks” drove fans to a musician who African-American audiences already knew and loved.

2. It was only a short step to the blues-obsessed British guitar players and in 1967, when he was only 22 and touring the US with Cream, Eric Clapton not only bowed to King’s great blues guitar style but actually played with the man. In 1969 this British obsession was compounded when King toured as the opening act with The Rolling Stones on their American tour of that year.

3. Clapton was so powerfully influenced by King’s relaxed, but deeply emotional and deeply felt, style that in 2000 he recorded a blues album with King titled Riding With The King. It was a homage from a musician fans had called “God” to a real blues god.

4. In 1970 B.B.King had his first, and only, solo mainstream hit with “The Thrill is Gone”. It was so smooth and emotional that it got to No.3 in the Billboard Soul charts and crossed over to reach No.15 in the Billboard Hot 100. King now had an audience beyond the African-American blues scene. It was subsequently recorded by Willie Nelson and Aretha Franklin, sampled by MC Hammer and performed by Christina Aguilera.

5. Literally hundreds of budding rock ‘n ‘roll and R&B musicians learned soulful “emotion” from King. One of the greatest was Stevie Ray Vaughan, a white musician from Texas whose style, heavily borrowed from King, was to influence a generation of blues-inspired guitarists.

6. Although he always believed that Jimi Hendrix had his own unique sound, B.B.King did admit that he had taught Hendrix when he was still a very young man. He recalled: “I met him when he was playing with Little Richard … and he was kind of quiet, shy, he didn’t open up too much, but there were questions as we all ask each other. You know, ‘How do you do this?’ and ‘Why do you do that…’ We had very small discussions on things like that. And he was very polite.”

7. A new generation of musicians embraced King when U2’s Bono wrote “When Love Comes To Town” and not only featured King on the album 1988 album Rattle and Hum, but actually toured the world with him. It brought King to a new audience when it reached No.2 on the US pop and rock charts.

8. Perhaps B.B.King’s strangest influence was on President George W Bush. King met Bush in the Oval Office (where he presented the president with a copy of his Lucille guitar) and then went on to perform at the Kennedy Center in front of 800 people who had gathered to celebrate Bush’s first year in office.

9. With the legendary Beale Street in Memphis in decline, King in his new capacity as an ambassador for the blues, opened the BB King’s Blues Club where he occasionally performed and championed the blues. It was a powerful reminder that his name was now synonymous with the golden age of Chicago blues.

10. In the end King’s unique style has been imitated by virtually every blues and blues-influenced guitarist. In his Encyclopaedia of the Blues, American critic Edward M. Komara​ summed up King’s influence as “a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed.”

(Pris sur le site : Sydney Morning Herald)


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