B.B. will always be The King
Posted in the B.B. King Forum
#1 Mar 5, 2014
I just have to say a few words about the B.B. King concert we went to on Monday night. I cannot remember the first time I ever saw B.B. in concert but I know that both he and I were a lot younger then than we are now. I have seen B.B. in concert more times than I have seen any other artist in concert. He is 88 years old now and I did not expect him to be able to play and sing the way he could 20 years ago. I wistfully wish for a time machine so I could see him in his prime 40 or 50 years ago.“Live at The Regal” was recorded when I was 5 years old and the man, the guitar, the voice, can fill my heart every time I listen to it. I believe the last time I saw him was in 2008 and he could still play and work a crowd like no other artist I have ever seen.
When B.B. walked out onto the stage it literally took my breath away. He was pale, gaunt, and his face looked thin and pained. He did not have that gleam in his eye and the tease in his voice as he has in the past. He barely managed to play 3 or 4 songs, and even those he tried to play he did not always finish. Even “The Thrill Is Gone”, one of his signature songs, he only played about half way through and did not seem to remember the lyrics as he only sang the chorus a couple of times. He depended heavily on his band to fill in where he could not play. At one point, he began playing a song that he had already played. His fingers could still skillfully manipulate Lucille’s fretboard but seemingly not for an entire song. There were several times when it was noticeable that he made mistakes, or as he said “I hit a sour note.” He bantered with the crowd as he always does, but most of his banter seemed like rambling. Even when he introduced his band members, he could not remember all of their names.
Those are the painful facts, but this is not an indictment of a man who is past his prime and who put on a disappointing show. There were a few people in the audience, mostly younger people, who apparently did not understand what they were witnessing. They rudely shouted out songs they wanted him to play, to the point where B.B. was becoming visibly upset. The majority of the audience were people who love the man as I do. There was an air of respect, love, and even reverence from the majority of the crowd, those who understood what we were seeing. He did not seem to be in a hurry to leave, even though he was clearly tired and worn out. We were not in a hurry to leave either. As always, his manager stood nearby with his hat and his coat for him to put on as he walked off the stage, but he stayed seated for quite some time, just chatting with the crowd close to the stage.
Most people were very respectful, some were not. For the most part though, we stood knowing that we were watching a true American icon, probably for the last time. Shouts of “B.B. we love you” steadily drown out the shouts of those asking for more songs to be played. As we stood waiting for his assistants to help him stand to put on his coat and hat we sent him our love, our respect, and our admiration. There were more than a few tears being shed in the audience, sad to see this great man as he was that night. Hugs were in abundance in the foyer outside the theater.
I do and always will hold B.B. King in the highest regard. The man and his music are a legacy to the history of our country. He is an amazing artist and has had an amazing life. I fear that life, at least the life on stage, is coming to an end and that saddens me. I will truly miss being able to see B.B. King in concert but his music will always play in my headphones.
May God bless B.B. King for the rest of his days on this earth and may he then sit next to God, with Lucille in his lap, forever playing The Blues like no one else ever has or ever will again. There are many imitators, but there will never be another B.B. King. The legend will live on forever in our hearts. We love you B.B. We always will.
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