BB King tells the story of how an oppressed, orphaned young man influenced and earned the praise of the music industry and its following to carry the title of king of the blues.
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Take into consideration...
..that there may be a great deal of pain that...
..went with a walk of four miles.
And not knowing what might happen.
A night of sleeping with someone,
or near someone,
and being afraid to fully go to sleep because you might wake up dead.
So within all of this is the life story of survival,
but survival is a word.
This is a story.
Cut and take your film home.
It's all about feeling.
You can play 1,000 notes a minute, but if it just goes straight
across the board and there is no feeling, it doesn't mean anything.
# I love her in the morning I love her at night
# The very next day You know I hug her just right
# I love my baby... #
The blues is a feeling that has come out of suffering.
# I love my baby
# I don't care a thing about me... #
Being denied. Denial. Refused.
Abused. Misused. That's what the blues is.
A lot of the time, the younger people say,
that's old folks' music, the blues is.
But wait until they have a problem.
The people who follow blues music
and are attracted to it recognise the honesty of the singer's story.
There's no music in the world that cuts emotionally the way the blues guitar can cut.
He invented the whole approach that modern electric blues players use.
Sincere, honest, true, for real and genuine.
Those five things.
If you have those five things then you can play the blues.
Otherwise, it's going to sound like a parakeet repeating something you don't understand.
He's great in every way. Just the girth of the man is great.
He's the only guy or musician of any sort, male or female,
that defines a genre of music.
He's played probably in every country where they have electricity.
And probably a couple where they don't!
When you see blues, you have to say BB. You know, no doubt.
He is the master. He really is the grand master.
What makes somebody great?
When you look at a man's life,
can you truly say that man made a difference?
People say folk are born that way, or were blessed by a higher force.
Others say your environment makes it so.
In 1925, on a hot sticky Wednesday in the middle of September,
the cries of a newborn baby rang out from a sharecropper's cabin
over the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta.
A boy was born that day that was going to make a difference.
His name was Riley B King.
I was born, according to my dad,
between a little place called Indianola
and Itta Bena.
So when I first talked about it, I said India Bena.
And that's been going on ever since.
MUSIC: "Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door" by BB King
From what he said, if I can understand him correctly,
we are about at the turn to the road.
Dad, you did all right so far.
He must be looking over us. Yes. He's looking over us now.
To be here where somebody can truly say,
B, this is where you were born,
this is where the world first knew about you, right here,
it's a high for me, because I feel very good.
My mother was named Nora Ella.
My father was named Albert Lee.
But for a young couple that hadn't been married too long
and their first kid coming out, they lived not too far back over here.
Some of the houses in the area where I lived
were houses where you could look out through the boards of the house
at different times of day and tell what time it was.
When it rained, you had to have several buckets
because the water would drop through the top.
You had to set a bucket to keep it from splashing on the floor.
My mother, I guess,
was like most mothers.
She wanted to make sure that all the teaching and all of the guiding
they could do for you, and I believe my mother loved me and I loved her.
And everything she tried to teach me I tried to learn.
So finally, my mother and my dad, when they were separated,
my mom left and moved to Kilmichael, Mississippi.
I noticed that my mother had big spots of blood clots in her eye.
She died of diabetes, same as her son has, this one.
# Nobody loves me but my mother
# And she could be jivin' too... #
I had been living with other people all of my life since my mom.
I had two or three great-aunts.
One of them was the one that used to have a phonograph
that I used to go to.
Her name was Jemima. I used to love to go to her house for that
but didn't like to go to her house because she always kissed me.
And she always did snuff and I didn't like snuff.
And every time she kissed me, I'd get a taste of that snuff.
So I begged my mom, "Don't take me over there."
Then I'd think about her phonograph and it's, "OK, take me on over!"
I kind of fixed myself for that first kiss
and after that, I didn't have to go through that again.
He moved from there over to Henderson Place.
That's when Riley started staying with him
and enjoyed the blues being played.
He moved over there to stay with his Uncle William and help him tend to the baby.
My mother's brother was married to a sanctified preacher's sister.
This preacher, after church on a Sunday afternoon,
would visit his sister, which was my aunt.
And he'd always lay his guitar on the bed and I would go and get it
as soon as they turned their backs.
So I think this is really what started me fooling with the guitar,
not by listening to some of the other people.
The roots, as they sometimes say,
I think mine began in Elkhorn School.
At that time, I had to walk about five miles a day to school.
Formal school did not provide much education on the plantation.
They said a big boy ought to be in the field, not in school.
He was there trying to be positive, in my thinking.
And I owe that to Professor Luther H Henson.
He told me things then that I can still hear him telling me today.
You've got one house. Your body. Your body is one house.
He said take care of that one because you're not going to get another.
I think he did it because he saw the need
of the black children needing to be taught
how to better themselves and make a better living.
And it could be done if they would come to school
and get a better education.
I'll always love him.
I was a regular hand from the time I was seven years old.
They didn't used to have child labour laws and all of that.
So I was doing farm work just like the adults were when I was seven.
I started about, what we call from can to can't.
Can means when you can see. Can't when you cannot see.
And I think about it.
When I was travelling with the mule, following the mule ploughing
and doing all that, you are walking about 30 miles a day.
And you do that six days a week. So you figure it out.
You do that six days a week and you do it for six months out of the year.
So multiply that by 18 years. I've walked around the world.
# Oh, Lordy
# My trouble so hard
# Oh, Lordy
# My trouble so hard... #
Out of that condition, the blues were born.
Usually, one guy would be ploughing by himself, or maybe one guy
would take his hoe and chop way out in front of everybody else.
And usually you would hear this guy sing.
# I wake up in the morning... #
That is the only time you'd get a chance to sing the blues, is out in the field,
because your parents didn't allow that in the house.
Nothing but spiritual music.
So if you were picking cotton, you could sing whatever you wanted to sing.
To play that music and not invoke the name of Jesus or God,
I guess, then who are you invoking?
I don't know about all of that, but that's what they would call it.
They said you're selling yourself to the devil.
A lot of people in the church,
they go through this thing that it's the devil's music.
But the way he plays and the way he sings,
that is a gift from God and if you are at all religious,
you will believe that he has that gift
and that he was touched when he was in the womb.
# Somebody calling my name... #
You were John, Jim, Jones
and nobody all week long.
But Sunday morning, you became brother John,
sister Mary and Mr Jim,
because you were somebody on a Sunday morning.
But if it had not been for that, we would have gone out like a light.
My mother was very religious. Very, very religious.
She made me go to church whether I wanted to or not.
When he joined the church, Archie was a preacher, my brother-in-law was a preacher.
He preached his church out.
Reverend Archie Fair was the first person
I ever heard play an electric guitar
and that's why I wanted to be like him.
In the church,
this boy would get the chance to play on Archie's guitar a little.
He was a preacher and a teacher.
And I think that he didn't necessarily
just meant for it to be me, but all of his students.
And I liked him. Worshipped him.
And I think that's how he helped me a whole lot.
When his grandmother moved over there, William decided
he wanted him to stay with his grandmother.
So he put him down there with her.
She worked for my mother.
She would cook and clean house.
Anything she needed doing.
They probably worked in the fields too.
When my grandmother died, I still stayed in the little house
that my grandmother and I had lived in before she died.
I remember she owed something like 35 or 40 or something.
We didn't make much money. I was making 15 a month.
But I paid my grandmother's bill. I paid it off myself.
I felt deserted.
Nobody but me.
# I'll survive... #
After my daddy got me and brought me to Lexington, Mississippi,
I started going to school there,
which was the first big school I'd ever gone to.
He had some half-sisters and brothers.
He said they couldn't get along too good. That's what he told us.
He had three girls and a boy and those were my sisters and brother.
Which I loved, but I wasn't as close to them as I think
I would have been had I been raised with them in the beginning.
My dad never told me he loved me. He never did. But I knew when he did.
When he showed love to me, he called me Jack.
Now, why in the heck did he call me Jack?
But any time he was very pleased, I had that feeling and he'd call me Jack.
Out of the clear blue sky, "Jack, what do you think about this?" Or, "What do you think about that?"
And I'd feel so good until I'd almost cry because I knew what that meant.
But he never, ever, ever, ever, that I know, said, "Son, I love you."
But I tell my kids, great-grandkids and grandkids,
I tell them all when I go home, "I love you."
In those days, it was oppression.
And you'd be depressed by oppression because you had no rights.
Black folk had no rights. You were not black.
You were Negroes or niggers.
Ku Klux Klan was thought of, I believe, in that area at the time.
I never did come face-to-face with them, but I knew a lot of people did.
For you that don't know it, the Citizen Council, White Citizen Council,
began in Indianola, Mississippi.
Our place was to work hard and obey the white man.
One of my first days of really experiencing
what segregation was really like.
A mob had killed a boy. They had hung him.
It had to do with a white lady.
They had driven him in a car to the courthouse
in Lexington, Mississippi, and I saw it.
And that's something I have never forgotten.
I guess it's something like people seeing people killed in a war. You don't forget it.
You were just a thing, not a human being. Just a work thing.
They had a slogan. If a mule dies, buy another one.
Kill a nigger, hire another one.
And that's the way I was brought up.
You were nobody.
You were just about equal to a mule.
You could not say yes or no to a white man.
It was Mr, and you just didn't argue with them.
Whatever they paid you, you accepted that and went along.
There was no such thing as social security.
No such thing as retirement. You had no insurance.
The only insurance folk had was barrel insurance when you die.
Otherwise, they would put you in a box.
They would make a box, put you in and bury you. I was there. I know.
It was badder than bad.
We were all raised in bigotry, hatred and denial.
None of us could get a drink of water from the public water fountain.
None of us could sit in a restaurant and have a decent meal.
None of us could. No Negro could go into a hotel and get a room.
So he faced the same thing that all of us faced.
The racism, bigotry and hatred.
But let me add this. Let me say this to you about BB.
He never let that turn him against white people.
Young Riley King started dreaming of life back in the Delta.
The Delta was home.
So late in 1941, 16-year-old Riley jumped on his bicycle
and began to peddle his way home.
Back to where his heart belonged.
Me and John were sitting on the porch one evening and here he comes riding on his bike.
I said, "Who's that?" He said, "I don't know."
He got up to look a little closer and he said, "That's Riley."
All those other people had left here.
There were a few people like the Fairs.
Mr John Fair and his beautiful wife, Miss Lessie Fair.
John brought him to my father and gave him a place to stay,
so he fixed that little cabin up for him.
He didn't have any clothes.
All he had was the clothes on his back and that bicycle.
I had a good boss. Mr Cartledge was one of those people that
I wish the world had a lot more of them.
He was one of those people that was a fair man.
During those days in the '30s,
a lot of times we didn't think a lot of white people were fair.
We thought a lot of the white people at that time
thought only of themselves.
But he wasn't one of those people.
The house stood about here,
where BB lived when he lived with Flake and Thelma Cartledge
and their son, Wayne.
I do remember that he always wanted to play the guitar.
And a fellow, name of Denzel Tipple, had a guitar
he wanted to sell for 15.
And our father went down there and paid for it for him
and BB paid my father back, you see.
You may not know that Wayne wanted his daddy
to buy the guitar for him and he wouldn't do it
and BB was the one who ended up with the guitar.
And I'm still mad that I didn't get a guitar.
When I first came to the Barrett plantation,
I'd heard a lot about the plantation
and heard a lot from a lot of the tenants that
lived on the plantation about what a nice man he was to work for.
BB drove a tractor. I taught him how to drive.
He drove a tractor for Mr Barrett, BB did.
There were many big plantations
and they would have somebody they called a rider.
Usually it was a white person on a horse.
This white person usually carried a gun and a lot of cases.
A lot of cases and he carried a whip.
Mr Barrett was very, I don't know,
very thoughtful, I would say.
So what he did, he hired a black overseer named Mr Baggot.
Booker Baggot. And we worked like crazy because we wanted to keep him.
Mr Baggot was the one who taught me to drive a tractor.
If there is any such thing as a superstar in tractors,
I thought I was.
Of course, I thought I was pretty cute too at the time.
I'd wake up and I'm due at the tractor barn in about half an hour
and I lived about a mile from the tractor barn.
So when I'd wake up,
having about 30 or 40 minutes to get to the tractor barn, I'd put on my
clothes and was at the tractor barn by the time everybody else was ready.
# Precious Lord
# Take my hand
# Lead me on, let me stand... #
My early years, I sang Gospel songs with various quartets.
And usually I was the lead singer.
And we did very well out of a group called...
The famous St John Gospel Singers.
The famous St John Gospel singers.
They had a good time.
I'd get home and turn the radio on and wait for them to come on.
I sure did.
Then is the time I decided I wanted to get married
and I got married to a young lady.
To Martha King. In that year, we lived in a house together.
We lived in a three-room shotgun house. Two doors.
One at the front and one in the back.
Martha and BB married, but they never had no children.
He was singing Gospel songs instead of being at home.
He didn't stay at home much. He was running around singing a whole lot.
The Saturday was my day.
Go to town on Saturday and have a good time.
# Everything down to New Orleans
# You can understand It's what I mean... #
Some walked to town.
Some would catch a ride. One person might have a car.
And people used to come to town then in wagons.
Everybody threw their cares to the wind.
Church Street was black folks street.
# It was rocking
# It was rocking... #
People were in and out, gambling
and doing what little dancing they were doing.
If you didn't get on Church Street, you wouldn't be in Indianola.
He had one corner he would play on early during Saturday afternoon
and would put his hat out and people would throw coins in it.
Later on during that Saturday evening,
he would move further down Church Street where the real roughnecks were
and the people who had a real appreciation for the blues and didn't mind people knowing it.
They threw just a little more coins in the hat than
the earlier crowd, which probably were the churchgoing people.
He used to play on what they used to call juke houses
all the way down Church Street. That's where he used to be.
I wouldn't call them nightclubs, but juke joints.
It would be that time of year then.
And you know the Mississippi on a Saturday night on Church Street.
You'd remember it for ever.
I came in in a hurry on my way to go to a church to sing that night.
I had been ploughing, ploughing, ploughing. And then it happened.
We got off that evening, I cut the ignition of the tractor and I jumped
down and started running to get ready to go out and it started up again.
And when the tractor started up again,
it went forward and all of this broke off.
Scared me half to death.
I never did stop running and that is the first time I went to Memphis.
# And I'm walking
# Walking and crying
# You don't love me no more
# I was loved by you
# Did all I could
# All I could, darling... #
I had a lot of fun, because Memphis was a city.
I would say it was like heaven.
All on guitars, those guys could play them.
What a feeling it was.
Beale Street had many musicians that were interested in trying
to help you if you wanted to learn.
And they had musicians
that would just meet up on the street on the weekends
and trade ideas.
I came to Memphis and started hearing all those other guys play.
I found out I was nothing.
I'm still like that today.
MUSIC: "Aberdeen Mississippi" by Bukka White
Once in Memphis, BB King sought and found his cousin,
the great blues man Bukka White.
Bukka was born up around West Point, Mississippi,
and a lot of people say he taught me to play, but that's not true.
But he did teach me quite a bit about being a blues player.
Bukka White used to tell me that to be a blues singer, you should
always dress like you were trying to go to the bank to borrow money.
Which means you just - well, a word musicians use -
kind of "sharp", you know.
And he used to play with a slide on his finger
and I could never get that.
I've got stupid fingers. They just wouldn't work.
So in order to get the type sound that he had
I would trill my hand like that
and I think over the years I've done pretty good with it.
I still don't have it right.
I asked BB one time how he got his guitar to sound that way
and he said I was trying to make a sound like a steel.
So who would have thought?
Beale Street Amateur Night.
I hosted the show for 11 consecutive years.
At first, we used to have a five, three and two dollar prize.
But then it got so that everybody who came on stage got a dollar.
I remember going on that show many times
and thank God for Rufus Thomas, because Rufus Thomas was the MC.
I guess I looked so bad and so pitiful and I was so broke.
Rufus Thomas, when he would see me, he'd say, "You know you were on last week."
I'd say, "Yes." "Why are you back this week?"
"I need to go back on again because I need that dollar."
I stayed up there for about six to eight months and then
I called some of my family back and I said,
"Tell Mr Barrett I'm sorry
and I would like to work and pay it off."
So he got back in with Mr John Barrett and came back
and worked by the day driving tractors.
With wobbly legs, I came back.
And I think it cost 500 or 600 and I paid it off, and the next time
I left to go to Memphis to start my career, I started it correctly.
# Oh, Lord
# What a beautiful city
# Oh, what a beautiful city... #
When we left Mississippi, going to Memphis,
we expected many things to happen, and it did.
The late Sonny Boy...
The second Sonny Boy Williamson was on the radio in West Memphis, Arkansas.
I decided I wanted to go and see him one day, and one day I did.
When I went over to see him,
I begged him to let me sing a song.
So he made me audition, and I did,
and he liked it and he put me on his show that day.
And that night he had two jobs to play,
one of them he didn't want, because it didn't pay much money.
So he called the lady he was supposed to play for,
did she hear the programme, and she said yes.
So, he called her and he said, "Miss Anna, did you hear the boy?"
And she said, "Yeah," and he said,
"Well, I'm going to send him down to work for me tonight."
So I went over there, man, and they paid me 12 - 12 American dollars.
That's a lot of bread for a guy that'd been making, you know,
like, 35 cents a hundred picking cotton, you know.
She said, "If you can get a job on the radio, like Sonny Boy has,
"I'll give you this job, and you can play six nights a week."
And I thought about that and said,
"God, I hope I can get me a job on the radio."
Well, I'm just a blues singer.
Tractor driver, truck driver...
I was a disc jockey for a while.
Why I sing the blues is because I lived it.
You're probably wonderin', "That guy, the way you talk, was a disc jockey?"
Trust me, I was. For about five years.
The only way to do it is say it loud and clear,
make sure that everyone will hear...
It's the truth - the way it is...
And I enjoyed it so much,
the call letters of the radio station
I can remember today like it was yesterday.
This is BB King...making a statement...and a natural fact.
Everybody wanted to know...why I sing the blues.
The first all-black operated station in the Mid-South.
In fact, I think, in the nation.
Greetings and salutations!
Ooh, poopy-doo, and how do you do!
It's a good, good morning to you on an all-blue Saturday,
here on WDIA
with your Rufus Thomas.
This new radio station was being opened in Memphis,
so when the red light went off the air,
I went to the window and I knocked.
So he came to the door and said,
"What can I do for you, young fella?"
I said, "I want to make a record and I want to go on the radio."
And he laughed.
And Mr Ferguson said, "Well, we don't make records."
And then he had this deep-thought look on his face...
and he said, "You know, we got this new product."
He said, "Maybe he would be good for this new product."
So he went and got me a bottle
and he held it up like this and he said,
"This is Pep-ti-kon. Do you think you could write a jingle for it?"
I started thinking about it.
I said, "Yes, sir. I can write a jingle."
So it went like this.
# Pep-ti-kon sure is good
# Pep-ti-kon sure is good
# Pep-ti-kon sure is good
# You can get it anywhere in your neighbourhood. #
He said, "You're hired!"
Blues Boy King. Did your dad name you that?
No, I used to be a disc jockey in Memphis,
and they called me the boy from Beale Street, the Blues Boy.
So people, instead of saying Blues Boy,
they just started using the word Bee-Bee, which meant Blues Boy.
And, erm...my real name is Riley B King.
Now, most times, if someone would come up and say, "Hi, Riley!"
I would wonder who they're talking about.
I taught him the best I could.
Lotta times he didn't understand what I was telling him.
But when I put him with a group... that put pressure on him
and he HAD to learn.
You can't work with nobody without you know.
You see what a bass player's layin' down when you see BB's playin'?
Bass player's right behind him.
That's what he listens to.
Now you know.
In fact, it's like I usually tell the band, like I have today -
"You know a lot more than I do and you play better than I do.
"But I'm the band leader."
BB was just learning how to play.
But he always could sing.
And he finally learned how to play.
REEL-TO-REEL TAPE MACHINE SWITCHING
Having learned from those around him,
the young and confident Riley King was ready to cut his first sides.
BB King first recorded for Bullet Records in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jim Bullet owned the company.
I think he had four sides he did.
He did a thing for his first wife, Martha King.
In fact, the song was recorded Martha King.
I thought I was really making it at that time. As a musician.
Because I was recording!
# Now, it is 3 o'clock in the morning... #
The first session that I did with BB in Memphis
was 3 O'Clock Blues, was his hit record that came out of there.
It was just...put the musicians together and do it.
I was, "How big was that amplifier
"you had on 3 O'Clock In The Morning?"
He said, "About like that."
And that's when you had that real natural tone.
Wasn't nothing fictitious about it.
That's exactly what you played,
and what the amplifier gave you back.
When he recorded 3 O'Clock Blues,
that's when things really began to happen for him.
He said, "I'd like to have a new guitar before we went in the studio."
I said, "I'll buy you two of them."
I bought him two guitars, that's when he called it Lucille.
And he says, "I'll make you two hit records." Which he did.
I always wanted to meet Helen.
Helen? Who is Helen?
-Helen, your guitar. You know you...
-Oh, are you talking about Lucille?
This is Lucille. It's my baby.
That's not the guitar I saw you with last night, BB.
The first one that was named Lucille
was because of a fight in a little nightclub.
And we played there, and we had to...
It was like that big garbage can.
Like that one. Just like it! A little odd...!
And they would half fill the can with kerosene.
Light that fuel, and that's what we had for heat.
So this particular night, two guys start to fighting,
and one of them knocked the other one over on this container.
And the fuel spilled on the floor and it was already burning,
so as they tried to put it out, it seemed to burn more.
Everybody in the little club dancing
started to run outside, including me.
But when I got on the outside,
I remembered that I had ran off and left my guitar.
So, I started back for it and the fellas working with me
said, "No, don't do it." But I went anyway, and I got my guitar.
But I was almost burned to death trying to save it.
So the next morning, we found that two men had gotten burned,
got trapped in the building and got burned to death.
And we also found that these two guys was fighting about a lady
and the lady's name was Lucille.
I named my guitar Lucille to remind me not to do a thing like that again.
And I haven't!
# Now, darling
# Though I love you... #
Beale Street entrepreneur Robert Henry
started to look after the interests of BB King.
This resulted in a national tour of the main black theatres and clubs
known as the chitlin' circuit.
The road was no place for a marriage -
the road was BB King's new home.
And he told me, he said, "Cille." I say, "Yes?"
He said, "Ma's done left me."
I says, "Girl, why you leavin'?"
And she says, "Co' he won't stay at home.
"He playin', goin' everywhere."
I said, "Martha, BB can't like all them women as likin' him.
"Either he playin', or... Girl, you's crazy.
"You should stay with your husband."
But she didn't.
This business is a very difficult business,
but I couldn't live without it
and I don't think he could live without it either.
# Oh, done left me...
# Baby, for someone else... #
When Bill Harvey signed on to BB...
Bill Harvey, I think, had about 11.
He had 11 piece.
And he stayed with BB for 14 years.
Every record that BB put out after Harvey got with him -
the first one was Woke Up The Morning - was hit, hit, hit.
A little bit later on,
after I had been touring for a while,
then I turned the disc jockey loose and just toured.
And I'm still doing that.
At the time, when BB got his first bus, there was excitement,
because coming from a station wagon onto a big Continental Railway bus,
was just a marvellous feat for the group.
And it was something that none of the other groups had either.
This is the original picture of the BB King Band
on Beale Street in 1955.
Beale and Hernando, between Hernando and Third Street.
I think everybody knows this band as the BB King Band.
This is the BB King Band. No matter how many bands he goes through,
this will always be the BB King Band.
We were bad...!
Yeah, we were good.
Under your seat, you would have a box of food.
Like, pork and beans, sardines and crackers and that kind of stuff.
Because a lot of times you wouldn't have time to eat
at a restaurant or cafe, per se,
and it was very difficult.
A lot of the places you couldn't go in anyway.
And I've seen the Promised Land.
I may not get there with you,
but I want you to know tonight that we as a people
will get to the Promised Land.
De-segregation of America didn't start until the '60s.
And BB had been on the road for a good 10, 12 years before that.
You couldn't live...
It was just the chitlin' circuit, that's what they called it.
Negro baseball played it,
the big black bands played it -
chitlin' circles all over America.
That's what they call the black community - the chitlin' circuit.
But y'all didn't think of it as the chitlin' circuit, did you?
Well, that didn't matter about it...
But y'all didn't realise that it was "the chitlin' circuit".
-Everybody knew that the black section of America
was the chitlin' circuit!
But, Earnest, hold on. You didn't refer to it as the chitlin' circuit.
Yes, they did! You get any books at that period,
you'll know that that period was the chitlin' circuit.
All the places where Negroes played.
They accepted that was it, because you were playing black clubs.
There wasn't no sign up, it was just verbage.
-I don't know what that is!
We played everywhere -
Apollo Theatre to the honky-tonk joints.
All over the country.
B was always on the road.
He's the only guy, I think...
I think he's got a record that he played 365 days, one year,
and I tell him all the time, I don't want that record.
He can keep that one.
I used to work 320 days a year -
BB worked more gigs.
I don't know where he gets the energy from.
I mean, this man works more than anybody,
because the road is his home.
No night off, 365 days a year.
Some days, we didn't even get the chance to go to sleep.
# I've got a sweet little angel
# I love the way she spreads her wings... #
He told me he wasn't going to ask my mom to get married,
because he felt she would say no and he didn't want that.
So he said, "We'll just have to wait until you get 18."
So I said, "OK."
And, uh, that's what we did.
And he was in Detroit at the time.
Actually, I was 18 in March,
but he wanted to put off getting married until June,
when we were in Detroit,
because he wanted Reverend Franklin, who was Aretha Franklin's father,
to marry us.
So we waited until we got to Detroit,
got the licence and Reverend Franklin married us.
All I know is he'd be a hard man to have a relationship with,
because he's moving so fast.
I mean, the dude sits down
when he's playing,
but he is running through the year.
After we got married,
we got in a car, went to Cleveland and went to work.
We just kept going after that.
One day led into another.
# Tell me the reason why... #
Yes, all right...
In the early days, we'd love to go fishing.
Any time he had the opportunity, he would go fishing.
So, one day, he told me he was going fishing
and he went out to the car and I said,
"You're going fishing in your suit?"
He says, "That's all I have."
He says, "I don't have any other clothes,
"so I have to go fishing in a suit."
And it was a silk suit.
So he went fishing in a silk suit.
And it just shows you, whatever he wanted to do
and however he felt like doing it,
he would do it, no matter what.
HE PLAYS BLUES RIFF
First, I want to say, when I try to play,
I try to play...not just for myself.
I try to play for people.
I want them to laugh. I want them to smile.
The blues becomes a living thing when he's playing it.
It's not somebody trying to play the blues.
It becomes a palpable presence on stage.
BB King is gone when he's playing.
BB King's been gone
in the world of the blues,
just living in that ether,
for so long
that he belongs to it.
I looked over, I heard this sound of, like, a 747 taking off,
which is his voice,
and I noticed that, as he stepped back from the microphone,
his voice got louder,
and...then I realised, as they say in New Orleans,
"This is some other kind of shit."
This is some other kind of shit - I don't know.
There's some shamanism involved.
I think when I was 15,
I went and saw BB in concert, and...
..completely changed my life.
It's not about technique at all.
The first thing that inspired me, that I got from BB King...
He's concerned with telling a story.
..was the direct...speaking to one, you know?
He's concerned with moving people
and I have, all of my career, with my writing and my playing,
I have tried to maintain my focus on that.
BB King's tone was the first sound -
I now call it "SOCC".
It means the "sound of collective consciousness".
You can write a song and bullshit with it,
but you can't...
If you don't sell it, what the hell did you cut it for?
BB knew how to sell it.
He was great at this.
ANNOUNCER: How about a nice, warm round of applause
to welcome the world's greatest blues singer -
the King Of The Blues, BB King!
CHEERING AND SCREAMING
When BB would come to Chicago, he played a lot of different venues.
He played clubs, dances and places like that.
And he also played the Regal Theatre.
Jimi Hendrix gave me my first copy of Live At The Regal.
For me, that's just, like, the ultimate live BB King blues album.
Recordings like Live At The Regal and Live At The Cook County Jail
are two of my favourite live albums of all time.
I think the fire and the passion in which he was performing
on those two recordings is...
I think it's hard to come close to matching that.
Live At The Regal was like
this pivotal musical watershed
that took me away from the...
The British blues temporarily,
where I had just discovered the American blues
for the very first time,
after listening to Clapton and Peter Green and...
You know, Paul Kossoff from the band Free
and The Jeff Beck Group,
every incarnation of John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers.
One of the things that BB has
is a great rapport with the audience, you know.
He did that song...
# I bought you a brand-new Ford
# And you wanted a Cadillac
# I bought you a 10 dinner
# You said, "Thanks for the snack"
# I let you stay in my penthouse
# And you said it was just a shack
# I gave you seven children
# And now you want to give 'em back
# Now you want to give 'em back
# Cos I've been downhearted, baby... #
You want to hear BB King at the creme de la creme,
like Dexter Gordon would say,
listen to Live At The Regal
and every note, every word, every song, everything,
is...a perfect, flawless diamond, you know?
And that's...where Peter Green got his tone.
When you hear Peter Green,
he sounds like BB King live at Regal.
I remember hearing the big, thick notes, so...
# Doo-doo-doo... #
You know, he starts off,
big, thick notes, not tangy or twangy.
He starts off and goes through the tones of the guitar.
We didn't know how to play for any white audiences -
every once in a while, I'd have Eric Clapton and them...
It was Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield,
When they started showing up in clubs in Chicago,
we wouldn't make enough money to buy a bottle of whiskey,
so we'd go next door to get a bottle of wine at the liquor store,
which was cheaper.
And every time I saw a white face, I said,
"Look out, man, there's a cop in the house."
And that was these kids coming in,
picking up on the type of blues
that Muddy and me were always playing.
I was 17 at a club in Beaumont called The Raven.
I had a fake ID and got in.
We were playing, and I saw these four white people coming in,
and one was extra-white - Johnny Winter.
I kept sending the band members up there
to see if it was OK if I played,
and he didn't know if I could play at all.
"Can he play?" He said, "Yes."
And he said, "Will you let him play?"
I said, "I don't know, I'll let you know in a little while."
We were the only white people in the club,
and he had been having tax problems
and he thought we were from the IRS, come to bust him for his taxes.
So I was so shocked and surprised...
that it wasn't about the IRS.
It took me a little while to kind of get my feet back on the ground.
He kept saying, "Well, we haven't arranged this.
"I've heard all your records."
He asked to see my union card.
He really checked me out.
I let him set in and he was good.
I tell you, he was good. I tried him.
I went through three or four different keys
that a lot of guys are not too familiar with,
and I was enjoying it.
But he was a genuine guy.
He's a saint.
He's a blues saint.
All of us in this genre,
all of us in any kind of roots music,
we take what came before us.
The people I think that influenced me most was...
..Elmore James, I was crazy about Charlie Christian.
And I also liked...
one of my real favourites was Django Reinhardt.
But I was crazy about Blind Lemon and Lonnie Johnson,
just the sound that they had made me, I don't know, tingle inside.
The last two or three generations are all students of BB.
Everybody from BB's generation are all students of T-Bo,
I mean, he really was the guy.
It was just before I went into the army, about '42, I think,
I heard of a guy called T-Bone Walker.
# I'm in love with a woman
# But she's not in love with me... #
T-Bone Walker, that was the best ever at doing what he did
and how he did it.
I loved him, still do.
And I imagine today, if you listen to my playing,
you'll hear a little bit of all of him, I'm telling my secret.
But I think a little bit of all of those people I liked...
with my own ideas, I created the BB King twingy guitar sound.
It's tough because usually divorces come
because of cheating, or you fall out of love...
or you have money problems.
We've had all those things and we've survived them.
But...the love always stayed and, you know, it's...
You just have to do it.
If you're going to be a travelling musician,
marriage should be something you wouldn't want to do...
until you're not travelling a lot,
because there's very few travelling musicians that I know...
that have been able and successful in marriage life.
It's very difficult to have a family life
with someone who's working on the road 365 days a year.
We did have somewhat of an agreement that...
he would cut back some...
on his work, but...
that was very unrealistic of me to expect.
And you get to a point that you realise it is unrealistic.
Cos the nice thing is when you are married,
terrible thing when you're being divorced. It's awful.
If I had to do it all over again,
would I...at this stage?
Yes, I would.
# Oh, I guess it's the chains that bind me
# I can't shake it loose These chains and things... #
He came to me, I didn't come to him.
He was brought to me
because he had financial problems,
big-time, and he couldn't do anything, you know?
And he had to understand
and he had to listen to the rules, and he did.
Sid helped me out, helped me to get out of trouble with the government.
A few other things, I said, "Look, you're my CPA,
"but you've been doing everything that my manager should do.
"Why don't you be my manager?" In fact, I asked him,
he didn't ask me.
I set up a master plan
where we would be able to expose BB
out of the chitlin' circuit and...
..so he can make some money.
He wasn't making any money to speak of, you know?
Sid absolutely was
sort of a gateway to BB's career
and everything after that time period was kind of, sort of...
You know, it was already in place.
I didn't really become aware
of blues, in general, until...
the English guitar players
started talking about it.
By the time I'd done most of my homework,
which was during my mid-20s,
I was very fortunate to get invited to play by John Mayall.
I would say that Eric was most influenced
by Freddie King's playing,
Mick Taylor was most influenced by Albert King
and Peter Green was most definitely a BB King devotee.
When I first met Jimi Hendrix, he talked about BB King.
So now he comes out and plays just a couple of notes.
Yeah, I know what you're saying,
what you can say with a lot of notes,
BB King would say with a couple of notes, you know...
The wonderful thing about the three Kings...
..is we all learned to play from them.
The English invasion,
I think that really introduced a lot of Americans, including me,
to Howlin' Wolf and Slim Harpo and Muddy Waters.
I probably got more exposed to that kind of Chicago blues
and BB King, you know,
through that access of the English blues guys
and Eric Clapton, those...
It was a great gift the Brits gave us.
The British blues for me was more immediate and was more exciting.
It was louder, it tended to be Les Paul guitar, Marshall amp -
it was more rock.
We do it better!
That was the thing.
We do it better.
But it seemed to have had that elevation,
that difference when the white boys started to sing the blues.
They really put it on a different kind of a scale.
Many of these young players coming along today
have been really turned on by the way you play the guitar.
-People like Mike Bloomfield.
You hear yourself coming back from those bands?
Yes, I believe I do.
I don't want to stick my neck out there, but...I think so.
But I 'm grateful that some of them seem to like me.
I'm grateful because, to me, it seemed to open a few doors for us
that seem like they were never going to be open.
# Oh, because I-I-I
# I need your love so bad
# Need your soft voice
# To talk to me at night... #
The first chance to play in front of a white audience, it's like...
Who are these people, you know?
So I sent my road manager and told him to go and tell Bill
I was there, but I thought it was the wrong place,
so we were going to leave.
So Bill came back out with the road manager, came on the bus,
and he said, "No, you're at the right place."
I happened to be there
and the opening night was Otis Rush and Steve Miller and BB King.
He said, "Ladies and gentlemen...
"now would you believe that?"
And when he said that, you could hear a pin drop.
He said, "I bring you the chairman of the board, BB King."
I've never been introduced like that before or since.
When he mentioned my name they all stood up.
And for about three or four tunes after that
they would stand up after every tune.
And I was so touched till I cried, standing up there.
It was like watching a chandelier -
all I could see was his tears
and the diamond ring that he had, to wipe his tears.
And I was still washing dishes at the time, I was living with my mum,
and when I saw BB receive that kind of adulation,
that kind of honour...
I said, "This is what I want."
I felt weird. Felt real weird, but I did it.
And after that, I cried back up the stairwell.
It's like when Nat King Cole broke through and they accepted him,
so we kept doing that
after the initial '68 period,
working the Fillmore, working colleges,
and then all of a sudden we were able to book BB
into these rock'n'roll clubs
and other venues that never had black entertainers before.
He shifted a gear from playing in black clubs.
All of a sudden he was playing for white audiences
and he shifted a couple of gears right there.
And then BB could do whatever the hell he wanted to do.
In their early days, including mine, you didn't get paid.
You played well and you got drunk if you drank,
and if you played well enough you got a good looking woman.
So this was your pay.
Women, just screamed, "BB, BB! BB! BB."
I used to sell BBs.
I used to sell BBs to women.
This is BB King's BBs.
Oh, yeah, I've been called a womaniser.
I've been called many things pertaining to women.
Most of 'em are true.
And I love women.
I don't think that most women would want me now at my age.
A few might, because they might think
I've saved a dollar or two here and there.
maybe a couple.
# The thrill is gone
# The thrill has gone away
# Oh, the thrill is gone, baby
# The thrill has gone away... #
'I had been there about eight months,'
and in the interim
I had obviously looked at the artist roster that was there
and I'd been a BB fan since I was a kid, literally.
And I kept Bugging them,
"I want to produce BB King, I want to produce BB."
"You can't do that." "Why not?" "You're white and you're too young."
# You know you done me wrong, baby
# And you're going to be sorry someday... #
'I figured if I could take some different players'
and put them around BB,
that something good would happen.
So I pitched him on the idea and he said he was interested,
but he said, "I don't want to really commit to this for a full album."
So I said, "How about we do half of it live with your band
"and then half of it with my band in the studio?"
And he said, "OK, we'll do it that way." So that's Live & Well.
Very shortly after that, it was only, like, eight months later,
we were scheduled to do another album
and I said I would like to do it all with my band and he said,
"Sure, let's do it all the way."
And that was the big success
that resulted out of the second album, was The Thrill Is Gone.
# The thrill is gone
# The thrill is gone away... #
We recorded that maybe around 10 or 11 o'clock at night
and I'm listening back to it around two in the morning, you know,
going through everything that we'd recorded that day
and I had the idea to put strings on it.
And I think that's probably the best idea I've ever had in my career.
Because I think that's what took it to the pop charts.
John actually brought in The Thrill Is Gone and played it to all of us.
I've got a great memory of that.
BB had, really, a million-selling record
and that really put BB King into a different category completely.
MUSIC: "Little Red Rooster" The Rolling Stones
# I am the little red rooster... #
Sid was a big proponent of exposing BB to other audiences,
so sometimes he took dates that were not as lucrative financially
in order to bring him to other audiences
that were not exposed to him.
My manager had a talk with some of the people connected with The Stones
and asked them,
or presented my name to them,
that if they needed a, you might say,
warm-up group or something of that sort,
then I was available.
We never saw BB or had anything to do with BB until '69,
when we took him on tour.
# Hounds begin to howl... #
He would take the band right down to a whisper
and it was amazing.
You'd just hear the... With the little guitar lines,
and then he'd build and build and build
into this massive sound with the band.
I had never heard dynamics like it, and I've never heard them since.
I don't think anybody else
has ever managed to achieve that kind of thing that he did.
In a way I think it was an interesting time
for black blues musicians,
because it was probably one of the few times
they got to play in stadiums to a predominantly white audience.
The many people that I hadn't played, you know, to,
or hadn't heard of me,
started to listen to me and pay attention to me from that tour.
# Please drive him home... #
They themselves would be the first ones to admit
that they started out as a blues band.
They were always very good at playing homage to the...
To the blues artists that influenced them.
We went to record at the legendary Chess studios,
which is on South Michigan Avenue.
They wanted to know how we were doing it and why we wanted to do it.
"Why do you want to play like me?"
It's some very good stuff.
And one day I might get there.
They were very, very generous to us,
and they passed on all their tips and gave us all the help
and they were very, very kind
and I want to salute those guys.
Most of them are not with us any more. Of course, one is BB King...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The only tune I ever brought in that I asked BB to do,
that was Hummingbird, the Leon Russell song.
To get Leon to come and play with BB -
getting people to come and play with BB was never a problem.
I played on a song called Hummingbird,
that Leon Russell wrote.
He plays those little obbligatos.
When he sings he plays a lick, he sings and plays another lick -
turns out he does that when he talks too.
He was talking to me
and one time I was standing and... Ta-da-tam.
And I listened to it a couple of times
and I started playing the background to it.
They're not all the same, they're not all in the same keys,
they're not the same groove, or anything.
And so he had finished it,
we'd finished the song, what key, whatever it was,
and we played the ending, and he didn't say anything.
He started talking about something else and he'd play something else
and I'd play that background.
We got into about the third one
and BB started crying. He said...
He said "I've never had that before."
So it was very touching to me.
I was such a student of his
and I knew what he meant when he said those things on the guitar,
so it was a great compliment.
In 1971, BB King flew the nest
and ventured on his first overseas tour.
This accumulated in a collaborative album called BB King In London.
# And I love her just the same... #
OK, we're starting again from the top,
so you get a feel for what I'm talking about.
The top of the last one, OK?
# Fast-moving baby
# I can't do nothing to slow you down
# Your speed is supersonic, mama
# And you're faster than sound Now, now... #
You don't belong to the union, man.
When BB came to London to make that album,
BB In London, I was invited to play.
It was just incredible.
We were playing away and BB sort of looks at me
and I thought, he wants to end the song.
Ba-dam, bam bab-idy bam.
And he goes, "Too good to lose."
And we came right in again. It was like, "Oh my God!"
It was so great, we just kicked it in again.
And he did pay me a huge compliment in those sessions,
because he called me,
"You are just like a clock - tick-tock, tick-tock."
He just had everything.
Everything that you'd want out of a performer.
He had the energy, the charisma.
You know, he's handsome, he's got beautiful tone.
Everything had a meaning. Every note...just like a punch.
In 1974, I produced a big event,
I stepped out of my usual life
and produced this big event in Zaire in 1974
that surrounded the fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.
And I brought BB over.
BB came without a band
and was backed by the Crusaders, who I was producing.
So BB was knocked out with how that went.
A few years later, I got a call from BB
saying that he really needed to make a record and would I be interested?
So we sat down with Joe Sample from the Crusaders,
who was the piano player, and I put him together with a great lyricist,
a young lyricist named Will Jennings, at the time.
We made our first record with BB.
The magic of recording is the danger in recording.
When someone's played something for three years and they come up,
they walk into a studio and play it, they know it,
they've been through it so many times,
but when they're engaging it for the first time,
and if you can capture that moment,
you've got yourself something special.
# Oh! What do I have to do?!
# Yeah! #
# Hold on
# I feel our love is changing
# Hold on...#
At the end of that first album,
he said, "I made a mistake, I left Sid."
"I wish I hadn't done it, it was a mistake"
"and I don't know if Sid would ever..." And I said,
"What are you trying to say, BB?"
He said, "Well, I think we got a winner here
"and I need somebody to help me navigate it, you know what I mean?"
So I said, "Well, why don't I make a call to Sid?
"You want me to do that?"
And I said, "Sid, I think we got a hit album with BB,
"he wants you to come back."
He said, "Did he say that?" I said, "Not in that many words,
"but I think you should come out, man."
And he says, "I'll take the red-eye."
So the next day...
he showed up at studio
and they were there till the day Sid died.
# I'm nothing without you here. #
There was a time when he was doing 300-plus days a year.
And I'm talking about back in the late-'70s
and all through the '80s and the first part of '90s.
Many people tend to slow down in their 60s. Not BB King.
His next collaboration with a young band from Ireland
was about to propel BB to a whole new audience.
Well, you tour with the Rolling Stones
and then you go with the popular group of now,
and that's with Bono and U2.
My number one.
Keith Richards played blues records to us...
and I began this kind of journey to discover who were the greats.
And, you know, BB King is not just, you know...great,
he's like... Great!
Believe it or not, BB King came to Dublin, Ireland,
and he was playing in this club in Dublin, Ireland,
and we wrote this song for him.
It's called When Love Comes To Town.
I went and listened to the tape
and I was able to... kind of get some of it together.
-I hope you like the song
-I love the song.
I think the lyric is really... A real heavy lyric.
You're mighty young to write such heavy lyrics. BONO LAUGHS
# Hey, yeah, yeah!
# Hey, yeah, yeah, yeah!
# I was a sailor I was lost at sea... #
I gave it my absolute...you know,
everything I had in that howl
at the start of the song.
And then BB King opened up his mouth
and I felt like a girl.
# I stand accused of the things I've said
BOTH: # When love comes to town I'm gonna jump that train
# When Love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame
# Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
# But I did what I did before love came to town. #
We had learnt, we'd absorbed,
but the more we try to be...like BB
the less convincing we were.
I'm no good with chords,
-so what we do is get somebody else to play chords.
-Well, Adrian can do that. There's not much chords in the song.
-I think there's only two.
-I'm horrible with chords.
When we were working on When Love Comes To Town,
we were sitting around...
and we were showing him the chords.
And he said, "Gentlemen...
"I don't do chords.
"I do this."
I don't know what to do there.
-I'm just trying...
But there was this great sense of camaraderie in his band
and it was a joy, just a joy to share a stage with BB King.
That rich, brassy sound they had behind him with the horn section
and... And then his...
His grace, you know.
He's... He's a lesson in grace.
Thank you. Good night!
Let's all go for it.
A lot of emotion right there.
That's all right, young man.
That's all right.
The debt is very much in his direction.
The character of any great musician is usually identifiable
by the individuality of their vibrato.
Most players are recognisable
by that particular facet of their playing,
and that's how I would know BB's playing.
I can tell BB from one note,
-you know, most of us can, I think.
-I'd say that's true, yeah.
Yeah, I mean, his sound is completely unique to him.
If you can just play one note and somebody else can say,
"I recognise who that is."
From one note you know that's him and Lucille.
He can take one note and make it so sexy.
One note, you know, is all it takes.
-The note with the vibrato.
That note is not in the amplifier
and it's not even at his fingers,
it's coming from the centre of his heart.
You know, I can hear BB King with the sound off on the TV,
just by looking at his face.
I remember Eric Clapton was on CNN
and they asked him who he had never played with,
and BB evidently was watching it, because I was,
and he said, "BB King."
The first time I met him, I sat and played with him.
There are pictures of me and him sitting on amplifiers, you know,
it's a long time ago, '66, '67,
and that was it for me. One of my dreams come true.
MUSIC: "Riding With The King" by BB King and Eric Clapton
# I dreamed I had a good job
# And I got well paid
# I blew it all at the penny arcade... #
The CD he did with me called Riding With The King -
he named it, I didn't.
He had the ideas, most of the ideas for it.
HE had them, I didn't.
And it was my CD,
but I had told him when we started,
because his ideas I respect.
"Next year, don't do anything during that period and we'll do it."
And he stuck to it, you know,
it was a commitment we both kept.
When I'm going in the studio to do what I do,
I don't need you, Eric,
-nobody else, to show me what
-want to do,
but I listen to ideas.
And I listened to a lot of his ideas,
and he had a lot of good ones for Riding With The King.
So I thought, well, the best thing to do is,
we'll just go into the room with a couple of acoustic guitars
and see what comes out.
"Whatever you think is good, we'll try it." And we did.
And they were good.
Except trying to make me play acoustic guitar,
I didn't like that.
I had been cut all to pieces
by a guy called Alexis Korner.
Alexis Korner said, "B, I got two Martin guitars, acoustic guitars,
"and I got an idea for something I call Alexis Boogie. So let's try it."
But, boy, when we started the recording, he just cut me to pieces.
I said, "A-ha! I will never play another one as long as you're alive!
'And I didn't!
'I promised I wouldn't do it again'
but Alexis is dead now, so I'll try.
And he did the same thing,
cut me to pieces, so I won't do it again.
Is he kidding?
From day one with BB, from that day at the Cafe Au Go Go until now,
we just sit down and play and have a few laughs along the way.
It's very relaxed.
These youngsters are playing so good,
I hear them and say to myself, "Oh, God, I might as well quit now."
And another mind says, "How you going to eat?"
So that's one of the reasons I haven't quit.
I think that he's going to keep on doing what he's been doing.
At the moment, we work three weeks on and three weeks off.
And BB used the expression, "That's going to be carved in stone."
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
CROWD: BB! BB! BB!
When you mention the name BB King,
everybody can identify with his hometown
and many of them began to know that
that hometown is Indianola, Mississippi.
The Medgar Evers Homecoming
was originally started by BB King.
Every year I go down there for what we call Homecoming.
BB came up and stayed at Mississippi,
there was sweltering heat and racism and bigotry.
And anyone who had the nerve and the fortitude
to go out and fight to change that, BB supported,
and Medgar was the one who chose to do that in Mississippi
and the first to lead us into that.
In 2008, Indianola showed its gratitude
and opened the BB King Museum.
Every year tens of thousands of people visit from all over the world
to this little town in Mississippi
to share in one of the greatest journeys ever told.
All right, put your hands over her head, please.
OK, one more time.
You know, the only person who doesn't think BB is great
is probably BB.
People call me King Of The Blues, I've heard it many, many times.
Do you think I think that? No, I do not.
I think there's a lot of people can do exactly what I do,
and a lot of them can do it better.
They're just not me.
# Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
# Ever hear a church bell tone?
# Did you ever hear a church bell tone?
# Then you know that old B is dead and gone... #
He never forgets old friends.
If he's aware of a situation with one, or an old band member,
he considers them all family, current and past.
He cares about people.
He loves people.
And I think he's the most easy-going person I ever seen.
He wanted to share his talent and his soul with the world,
and that's what he did.
He's a one of a kind.
I mean, he's just like...
you know. Unbelievable.
There's only one BB.
Nietzsche, said for true greatness to take place,
there requires a long obedience
in the same direction.
I can't tell anybody what I want to hear,
but I have a...
I hear it myself, but I can't play it.
I'd don't know how to really get it myself.
I think sometimes the sound that I hear
has never been the sound that I want to hear,
if that makes sense.
It is a little sound that I hear,
but I can't tell anybody about it.
When I hear what I would like to hear, if ever,
I think I'd have to stop,
because it probably won't sound as good as I'm thinking it will!
I think that as a lesson in living
you can look at BB and also learn what it's like to be a man
and get through all those difficult times he had
and come through with the heart that he still has.
It's no mean accomplishment.
I don't think I've done the best that I could have done.
I thought I had.
I thought that I did everything the best I could,
but when I look back I see there's some slacks.
You can do better.
I have never told him,
but I sometimes call him father of us all
because that's the way I see him.
It is very difficult to find words to say.
He sang the blues and did a great job of it
and rose to a great height,
where even invited by kings and potentates from where he was.
I have never met a king before,
so I'm a bit nervous
but also grateful.
So grateful. Thank you.
I said, "Holy Father, I know you're always doing things for others
"so I wanted to do something for you, sir," I said.
I'd like to offer my guitar to you.
He took it himself.
He stepped in and took it from the guy and he smiled again.
Then he said, "Happy holidays to you and your family, BB."
Oh, my God. He said BB!
# Through the night
# Lead me, oh, Lord
# To the light
# Take my hand... #
Some nights, when you want to go out and just take a walk,
clear your head, or jump into a car just to take a drive,
you can't do it - Secret Service won't let you,
and that's frustrating.
But then there are other nights
where BB King and Mick Jagger come over to your house
to play for a concert!
# Come on!
# Baby, don't you want to go?
# Ain't no place
# Sweet home, Chicago! #
And now it is my honour,
as Governor of the State of Mississippi
to proclaim February 15th 2005
as BB King Day for the entire State of Mississippi,
and I urge all citizens to join me and the legislature
in celebrating and honouring this great Mississippian.
Only God knows how I feel.
I'm so happy, thank you.
The only thing about the blues, when BB's gone, the world goes on.
It's not going to stop cos BB King leaves,
but it will never be the same.
But I'm here to tell you
BB is leaving a legend that's going to be hard to be beaten.
We just got a BB King in our life.
And there ain't nothing else like it.
When I start to sound as bad
as I think I will when I get to a certain age...
I hope that, you know,
that little bell will ring in my head saying it's time to stop.
But other than that,
I wait until the great one upstairs take me away.
I don't feel bad.
I feel pretty good at 85, so...
here I am.
That's the best I can answer.
Today, at the Homecoming,
I saw a little boy in the choir
that reminded me so much of little Riley King, me - you know, moi.
And I almost cried thinking that here he is today,
he didn't have to go through what I went through.
What is it that I could have told him,
or could tell you, that would the make life better
for that little guy that looked like a little Riley King?
Then I smile and think... the sky's the limit.
What do you want to do with your music and with your singing?
Play the best that I can,
reach as many people as I can,
in as many countries.
I would like the whole world
to be able to hear BB King sing and play the blues.
# I swear by stars above
# I'll keep my word, my love! #
# Lord, I wonder, yes, I wonder
# Do my baby think of me?
# Oh, I wonder, Lord, I wonder
# Do my baby think of me?
# Now I wonder, Lord, I wonder
# Will my babe come back to me?
# Yes, she been gone so long
# Just can't stand it no more
# Whoa, she been gone so long
# Just can't stand it no more
# Now I ain't got nobody
# Have no place to go
# Yeah, I think when she left me
# Yeah, she went to somebody else
# Oh, I think when she left me
# Yeah, she went to somebody else
# Now if she don't come back to me soon
# Think I'm gonna leave myself. #
BB King opens his heart and tells the story of how an oppressed and orphaned young man came to influence and earn the unmitigated praise of the music industry and its following to carry the title of king of the blues.
Filmed on location all over America, as well as in the UK, this picture brings to life the heat- and gin-soaked plantations where it all began, with full cooperation of the BB King museum, owners of vaults and archives so precious and immense that several trips had to be made to revisit the collection and partake of its many gems. Prejudice and segregation has stained the lives of countless black persons and BB 'Riley' King made sure that through his music, he never allowed it to mar his spirit.
This is the essence of the story that makes a beautiful film, both informative and visually captivating.