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B.B. King & Eric Clapton

Universally hailed as the reigning king of the blues, the legendary B.B. King is without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half century. His bent notes and staccato picking style have influenced legions of contemporary bluesmen, while his gritty and confident voice -- capable of wringing every nuance from any lyric -- provides a worthy match for his passionate playing. Between 1951 and 1985, King notched an impressive 74 entries on Billboard's R&B charts, and he was one of the few full-fledged blues artists to score a major pop hit when his 1970 smash "The Thrill Is Gone" crossed over to mainstream success (engendering memorable appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand). Since that time, he has partnered with such musicians as Eric Clapton and U2 while managing his own acclaimed solo career, all the while maintaining his immediately recognizable style on the electric guitar.

The seeds of Riley B. King's enduring talent were sown deep in the blues-rich Mississippi Delta, where he was born in 1925 near the town of Itta Bena. He was shuttled between his mother's home and his grandmother's residence as a child, his father having left the family when King was very young. The youth put in long days working as a sharecropper and devoutly sang the Lord's praises at church before moving to Indianola -- another town located in the heart of the Delta -- in 1943.

Country and gospel music left an indelible impression on King's musical mindset as he matured, along with the styles of blues greats (T-Bone Walker and Lonnie Johnson) and jazz geniuses (Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt). In 1946, he set off for Memphis to look up his cousin, a rough-edged country blues guitarist named Bukka White. For ten invaluable months, White taught his eager young relative the finer points of playing blues guitar. After returning briefly to Indianola and the sharecropper's eternal struggle with his wife Martha, King returned to Memphis in late 1948. This time, he stuck around for a while.

King was soon broadcasting his music live via Memphis radio station WDIA, a frequency that had only recently switched to a pioneering all-black format. Local club owners preferred that their attractions also held down radio gigs so they could plug their nightly appearances on the air. When WDIA DJ Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert exited his air shift, King took over his record-spinning duties. At first tagged "The Peptikon Boy" (an alcohol-loaded elixir that rivaled Hadacol) when WDIA put him on the air, King's on-air handle became "The Beale Street Blues Boy," later shortened to Blues Boy and then a far snappier B.B.

King had a four-star breakthrough year in 1949. He cut his first four tracks for Jim Bulleit's Bullet Records (including a number entitled "Miss Martha King" after his wife), then signed a contract with the Bihari Brothers' Los Angeles-based RPM Records. King cut a plethora of sides in Memphis over the next couple of years for RPM, many of them produced by a relative newcomer named Sam Phillips (whose Sun Records was still a distant dream at that point in time). Phillips was independently producing sides for both the Biharis and Chess; his stable also included Howlin' Wolf, Rosco Gordon, and fellow WDIA personality Rufus Thomas.

The Biharis also recorded some of King's early output themselves, erecting portable recording equipment wherever they could locate a suitable facility. King's first national R&B chart-topper in 1951, "Three O'Clock Blues" (previously waxed by Lowell Fulson), was cut at a Memphis YMCA. King's Memphis running partners included vocalist Bobby Bland, drummer Earl Forest, and ballad-singing pianist Johnny Ace. When King hit the road to promote "Three O'Clock Blues," he handed the group, known as the Beale Streeters, over to Ace.

It was during this era that King first named his beloved guitar "Lucille." Seems that while he was playing a joint in a little Arkansas town called Twist, fisticuffs broke out between two jealous suitors over a lady. The brawlers knocked over a kerosene-filled garbage pail that was heating the place, setting the room ablaze. In the frantic scramble to escape the flames, King left his guitar inside. He foolishly ran back in to retrieve it, dodging the flames and almost losing his life. When the smoke had cleared, King learned that the lady who had inspired such violent passion was named Lucille. Plenty of Lucilles have passed through his hands since; Gibson has even marketed a B.B.-approved guitar model under the name.

The 1950s saw King establish himself as a perennially formidable hitmaking force in the R&B field. Recording mostly in L.A. (the WDIA air shift became impossible to maintain by 1953 due to King's endless touring) for RPM and its successor Kent, King scored 20 chart items during that musically tumultuous decade, including such memorable efforts as "You Know I Love You" (1952); "Woke Up This Morning" and "Please Love Me" (1953); "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta' Love," and "You Upset Me Baby" (1954); "Every Day I Have the Blues" (another Fulson remake), the dreamy blues ballad "Sneakin' Around," and "Ten Long Years" (1955); "Bad Luck," "Sweet Little Angel," and a Platters-like "On My Word of Honor" (1956); and "Please Accept My Love" (first cut by Jimmy Wilson) in 1958. King's guitar attack grew more aggressive and pointed as the decade progressed, influencing a legion of up-and-coming axemen across the nation.

In 1960, King's impassioned two-sided revival of Joe Turner's "Sweet Sixteen" became another mammoth seller, and his "Got a Right to Love My Baby" and "Partin' Time" weren't far behind. But Kent couldn't hang onto a star like King forever (and he may have been tired of watching his new LPs consigned directly into the 99-cent bins on the Biharis' cheapo Crown logo). King moved over to ABC-Paramount Records in 1962, following the lead of Lloyd Price, Ray Charles, and before long, Fats Domino.

In November of 1964, the guitarist cut his seminal Live at the Regal album at the fabled Chicago theater and excitement virtually leaped out of the grooves. That same year, he enjoyed a minor hit with "How Blue Can You Get," one of his many signature tunes. "Don't Answer the Door" in 1966 and "Paying the Cost to Be the Boss" two years later were Top Ten R&B entries, and the socially charged and funk-tinged "Why I Sing the Blues" just missed achieving the same status in 1969.

Across-the-board stardom finally arrived in 1969 for the deserving guitarist, when he crashed the mainstream consciousness in a big way with a stately, violin-drenched minor-key treatment of Roy Hawkins' "The Thrill Is Gone" that was quite a departure from the concise horn-powered backing King had customarily employed. At last, pop audiences were convinced that they should get to know King better: not only was the track a number-three R&B smash, it vaulted to the upper reaches of the pop lists as well.

King was one of a precious few bluesmen to score hits consistently during the 1970s, and for good reason: he wasn't afraid to experiment with the idiom. In 1973, he ventured to Philadelphia to record a pair of huge sellers, "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love," with the same silky rhythm section that powered the hits of the Spinners and the O'Jays. In 1976, he teamed up with his old cohort Bland to wax some well-received duets. And in 1978, he joined forces with the jazzy Crusaders to make the gloriously funky "Never Make Your Move Too Soon" and an inspiring "When It All Comes Down." Occasionally, the daring deviations veered off-course; Love Me Tender, an album that attempted to harness the Nashville country sound, was an artistic disaster.

Although his concerts were consistently as satisfying as anyone in the field (King asserted himself as a road warrior of remarkable resiliency who gigged an average of 300 nights a year), King tempered his studio activities somewhat. Nevertheless, his 1993 MCA disc Blues Summit was a return to form, as King duetted with his peers (John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Fulson, Koko Taylor) on a program of standards. Other notable releases from that period include 1999's Let the Good Times Roll: The Music of Louis Jordan and 2000's Riding with the King, a collaboration with Eric Clapton. King celebrated his 80th birthday in 2005 with the star-studded album 80, which featured guest spots from such varied artists as Gloria Estefan, John Mayer, and Van Morrison. Live was issued in 2008; that same year, King released an engaging return to pure blues, One Kind Favor, which eschewed the slick sounds of his 21st century work for a stripped-back approach. A long overdue career-spanning box set of King's over 60 years of touring, recording, and performing, Ladies and Gentlemen...Mr. B.B. King, appeared in 2012. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Mr. KING AND MR CLAPTON DO I NEED TO SAY ANYTHING ELSE?
I DON'T THINK SO......
Some of the best sad music
Wow!!! Nothing like the sound of Lucile!!!!
I never heard anything like that. I am already sad when BB is not playing anymore who am I going to listen to.
nice acoustic jam
oh yeah
cchivers34
Yhu
Don't read this cause it actually works.you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.tomorro w will be the best day of your life.however if you don't post this you will die in two days.now you've started reading this so don't stop.this is so scary.put this on at least 5songs in 143 minutes.when don press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters.this is scary because it really works.
shudson916
Eric and BB both don't just play the guitars--the y live the music and truly put their souls on display when they bend those strings.
t.e.stichter
B.B. Is the KING!!!!!! If you love the blues then we will ride with the one day!!!!!!!!
Story everybody knows
really love this music
Dont answer the door l love B.B.and to me he shares the crown KING along with B.B.BLAND 2 of the GREATEST
Saw BB at the Blue Note and then at Radio City Music Hall. Doesn't matter; small venue with small band or big venue with big band BB definitely kicks it. Go hear him while you can.
Don't read this cause it actually works.you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.tomorro w will be the best day of your life.however if you don't post this you will die in two days.now you've started reading this so don't stop.this is so scary.put this on at least 5songs in 143 minutes.when don press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters.this is scary because it really works.
Don't read this cause it actually works.you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.tomorro w will be the best day of your life.however if you don't post this you will die in two days.now you've started reading this so don't stop.this is so scary.put this on at least 5songs in 143 minutes.when don press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters.this is scary because it really works.
Man this is kickin back music.
Don't read this cause it actually works.you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.tomorro w will be the best day of your life.however if you don't post this you will die in two days.now you've started reading this so don't stop.this is so scary.put this on at least 5songs in 143 minutes.when don press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters.this is scary because it really works.
You can't beat bb or Elvis or the ribs in Memphis . Can't wait to get there again. Southern boy
I have with your music every since I was young child. It was so good then and still today 10/27/2013. This is the greatest music on the earth. Keep it going forever. Thank You Mr BB King
Damn! Awesome, Sweet....
hodgdons7
Riding With The King!! What a collaboratio n . Both these guys ..... masters.
To me he's the best,greates t . . . .
Legendary Technician with guitar.. In class by himself.
Having seen BB twice , the first time on his eightieth birthday, ALL HAIL THE KING !
B.B king and Eric Clapton. some of the best
kimosabe1960
The blues are not a musical genre...they are a lifestyle. Long live the KIng!!
It's a shame on me that I could get thru life seeing many many concerts and not seeing BB. I have a chance this spring. Tickets are steep now being retired but this may be my last chance.
It's like a chance I can't pass up. I know it will be a concert that I will LOVE. Paul
The two are the best there is. Even more amazing in concert.
these 2 men are amazing, look at king what a master
Damn simple the best
Father and son!!! Long live the blues!!!
This is some good wing stretching music guys 0:) Some true soul food. Thanks for keeping this angel rockin
bsteph20
Wow. Teacher and student digging each other....wis h I could experience that kind of union jus playing
B.B. is the MASTER on the guitar, all others are just subjects still learning his style. No one compares. His guitar sounds like it's talking with you. MASTERFUL.
it's the Master & disciple
B.B. King and Eric Clapton together is like Tea and Honey. One of those Ment to Be *********
I cant belive the bio said nothing bot bb and neither did most of the comments...j u people
crazydiamond 2 3
Nothing like listening to blues when it's played to perfection. I've been a Clapton fan since the late 60's and IMHO, Layla and other Assorted Love Songs is one of the best blues albums ever recorded. Listen to Have you ever loved a woman and you'll see exactly what I mean
You are right Man........
HE STILL PLAYS IT LIKE NO ONE ELSE CAN, IF YOU DON'T THINK SO THEN I WOULD PERCEIVE THAT POSSIBLY YOU HAVE NO TASTE OR KNOWLEDGE OF THE BLUES, OR GUITAR PLAYING IN GENERAL.
without a doubt, one of the world's greatest guitarists
My my my. this music is everything and then some
Love dem Blues!!!
oh yea man
im f**king hi man
As the graffitti in the London Subway said, Clapton is God., and the Beale Street Boy is just as good at his style!!!!!.
package802
NEVER HEARD IT???? You been livin' in a closet???
glennriddle
Oh my goodness!!! I'd never heard this incredible album before. Thank you, Pandora!
musicron
Heavenly notes !!! Great to get back on Pandora !! Thank You !!
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