ROCKS OFF - The Rolling Stones Message Board
RIP Brian
© Retna with thanks to Gypsy
CHAT ROOM aka The Fun HOUSE Rest rooms last days
ROCKS OFF - The Rolling Stones Message Board
Register | Update Profile | F.A.Q. | Admin Control Panel

Topic: Song of Lament: B.B. King says blues music gets no respect Return to archive
June 30th, 2005 10:04 AM
Ten Thousand Motels Song of Lament: B.B. King says blues music gets no respect

Thursday, June 30, 2005
By Shelia Byrd

Through his agile fingers, still soft despite decades of making love to the taut strings of his guitar, B.B. King becomes immersed in his music.

The high-pitched wail of the notes he coaxes out of the instrument, nicknamed Lucille, is salve to the soul of the nearly 80-year-old bluesman, who shows no signs of slowing down as he prepares to start a world tour this month in Holland.

It's been a good year for King, named by Rolling Stone magazine as the third-greatest guitarist of all time. He's recording a new album of duets with Elton John, Eric Clapton and Gloria Estefan, a memorabilia book bearing his name soon will be released, and he recently broke ground on the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretative Center in this small Mississippi Delta town.

Yet King, acclaimed around the world, still laments what he believes is a lack of respect for blues music in America, where radio stations mostly play hip-hop, pop and rock.

"We get treated poorly," he said. "I'm thinking about the younger ones, who are coming along today, not B.B. We've had several superstars, like the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, like the young Robert Cray, and they don't get play. They don't get exposed."

Blues music is a historical form, inspiring rock guitarists such as Clapton and Jeff Beck, but radio stations don't consider it as commercially viable as other genres, said Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor of Rolling Stone.

"That certainly doesn't mean it's not significant. How much jazz gets played on the radio?" DeCurtis said.

There has been a slight resurgence of the blues with the advent of XM Satellite Radio, on which King serves as Mayor of Bluesville, said Floyd Lieberman, King's manager.

The blues channel has 4 million listeners, Lieberman says, but "Jackson, Miss., stations play more blues than New York. That's the problem."

At his recent museum groundbreaking, King took a break from his fans, finding a comfortable chair to relax his hefty frame. Family and friends urged him to eat muffaletta sandwiches, broccoli and fruit to help control his diabetes.

King gently pushed the food aside; he wanted instead to talk.

He reminisced about his early years, working as a laborer on a cotton plantation in the heart of the Delta. And without a hint of bitterness, he explained how difficult life was back then for the man born Riley B. King in 1925.

"I was a regular hand when I was 7. I picked cotton. I drove tractors. Children grew up not thinking that this is what they must do. We thought this was the thing to do to help your family," said King, who lives in Nevada.

The interminably humble bluesman envisions his museum, to be at the site of the brick cotton gin where he once worked, as a conduit for Delta youth trying to escape the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Many in the community hold King up as the standard of success.

"In the Delta, they think he can walk on water," said Carver Randle, one of King's longtime friends.

As a young boy in the 1950s, Randle remembers seeing King drive his Cadillac around Indianola when the musician was in town visiting relatives.

"There was a time when nobody, black people or white people, cared for the blues. And in spite of that, B.B. stuck with the blues," said Randle, an attorney. "Anybody, whether they're in politics, law or education, would do well to just emulate what B.B. has done."

The museum, which is scheduled to be finished by 2007, will be a $10 million, 18,000-square-foot building, showcasing the various phases of King's career with a state-of-the-art theater, a blues studio and artifacts. Organizers have raised about half the cost of the project through private donations, no small feat in town of about 12,000.

King's long career took off in 1948 after he performed on a radio program on KWEM in West Memphis. He's been cutting tracks ever since, with perhaps the best-known being "The Thrill Is Gone" in 1970 or "Three O'clock Blues" in 1951. In 2000, he collaborated with Clapton to record "Riding With the King."

He has made countless appearances in Europe, where he says that the people have long memories.

"Tunes that we made many years ago, they know them today. They don't belittle you because you sing gospel or you sing blues. We get that at home sometimes," he said, moments before a group of fans from France had their picture taken with him.

King's single-note playing style sets him apart from other musicians, DeCurtis said.

"B.B. has a very specific kind of style, very lyrical. He doesn't play a lot of notes. In a slow blues arrangement, you can really hear the kind of elegance of his playing. He's not down and dirty," DeCurtis said.

King plays about 150 dates a year, but it's not because he needs the money.

"He hasn't had to work since he was 65 years old," said Lieberman, King's manager for 41 years. "He's financially sound."

Lieberman said that the forthcoming duets album, to be released before King's Sept. 16 birthday, won't all be blues songs, but King doesn't believe that should be interpreted as infidelity to his roots.

"Who said I'm supposed to do nothing but traditional blues music?" King said. "Blues players like to hear other things like other people."
June 30th, 2005 10:06 AM

Great Article --- THANKS !!!!

June 30th, 2005 09:33 PM
Soldatti Agreed 100% with him, the last blues album in the Billboard 200 was B.B King in mid March and he spent only 1 week on chart. Since then no blues album made the Top 200 and the current #1 on the Top Blues Albums, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, is selling less than 1,500 copies per week.
June 30th, 2005 09:45 PM
kath sadly true.although i will say that when i saw bb king a couple years ago, the venue was packed!!
June 30th, 2005 10:53 PM
Steel Wheels B.B. King is so great. I love hearing his music. He makes me feel good.
June 30th, 2005 11:18 PM
kath he's not nice to fans, though. really nasty, as his the rest of his band. but yeah, i love to hear him!!
July 1st, 2005 12:54 PM
Bruno Stone I have a James Brown show in DVD, and the shows starts with B.B. King, and it`s incredible watch him playing The Thrill Is Gone... B.B REALLY can sing, and play beautifully, of course.

His singing in Thrill Is Gone is amazing. Its a 84 show, I think.
July 1st, 2005 01:55 PM
polksalad69 true, but would you like it to get popular and turn into shit like the crap that passes as country music these days? so BB's nasty to his fans. so is Robert Jr Lockweed. who cares, you can still see this kind of music, well maybe not BB, up close.
July 1st, 2005 02:21 PM
kath wrote:
he's not nice to fans, though. really nasty, as his the rest of his band. but yeah, i love to hear him!!

Never heard that before Kath.... how so?? Really, I thought BB was kind and tender.....
Search for information in the wet page, the archives and this board:

The Rolling Stones World Tour 2005 Rolling Stones Forum - Rolling Stones Message Board - Mick Jagger - Keith Richards - Brian Jones - Charlie Watts - Ian Stewart - Stu - Bill Wyman - Mick Taylor - Ronnie Wood - Ron Wood - Rolling Stones 2005 Tour - Farewell Tour - Rolling Stones: Onstage World Tour

Search for goods, you'll find the impossible collector's item!!!
Enter artist an start searching using "Power Search" (RECOMMENDED)