Going through some old Popular Photography magazines this week and came across one with B.B. King on the cover. It was the October 2013 issue and the pix was so B.B., full of heart and soul.
B.B. King passed away on May 14, 2015. He was 89 years old. His life began as a sharecropper in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. By the end of his life he was famous worldwide as a singer and guitarist. He was admired by several generations of musicians and blues lovers.
All B.B.'s guitars were named Lucille. The story behind that is in 1949 he was playing a gig at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. A fire started and he left the hall. He realized he left his $30 Gibson behind and went in to rescue it. Later he learned the fire was started by two men fighting over a woman named Lucille. During the fight they tipped over a fire barrel used to warm the hall. From that time on he named all his guitars Lucille.
In the past Gibson Guitar Company has honored this name. They launched the "B.B. King Lucille" model in 1980. They also had a line call the "Little Lucille," no longer in production. And they produced a special run of "80th Birthday Lucilles" when B.B. turned 80. (An aside: Gibson Guitar Company was located in Kalamazoo from its founding in 1902 until 1984 when it shifted its operation to Nashville, Tennessee.)
Mike and I and some friends saw B.B. play in person at the Konocti Harbor Resort in the 1980's. It is located in the north country of California at Kelseyville. This resort was originally built by U.A. Local 38 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union. As I recall it was originally meant to be a casino, but never got the licensing for that. Instead it became a resort with an entertainment space where the slot machines were to be placed. It was quite an intimate setting and B.B. was up close and personal and fabulous at that concert. The facility is closed now.
I remember driving from our friend's home in Clear Lake to Kelseyville. Along the way we saw mysterious wisps of smoke rising from the ground. We discovered later that it was hydrothermal (hot water) activity. The "smoke" was actually steam venting from natural underground hot pockets to the earth's surface. Read more at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrothermal_vent
At B.B.'s funeral the eulogizing Reverend Herron said about B.B., "Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing." B.B.'s life gives testament to the possibilities of triumphing over difficult circumstances. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.B._King