Wed Sep 14, 2005 11:59 pm
I got this in email today, from the Nightline update email list:
King of the Blues -- B.B. Turns 80
Sept. 14, 2005
OK -- I suppose I'm like a lot of people out there -- I've listened to a wide variety of music all my life (pop, rock, blues, classical, zydeco, reggae, rap, and on and on) and like to think of myself as a connoisseur. I have lyrics of songs in my head that I heard when I was 6, but couldn't recite the Declaration of Independence if I tried! Some would say those lyrics stuck in my head are useless information, others would say music is the fabric of our lives that holds us all together -- that pulls us all together. I agree with the latter.
Before this shoot, what I knew of B.B. King was that he is one of (if not the) most revered guitarists and performers to ever hit the blues stage. After Ted Koppel sat down with him last Sunday at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Northern Virginia, I am now completely in awe of the man -- as a performer, as a musician, as a human being. Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy and Morgan Freeman all spoke to us about him as a "generous and warm soul." What I think Ted found out, in hearing his life story, is that he funneled all the pain and tragedy and hard times into his guitar playing and singing, and that's what makes him such a legend and icon.
As we see what is happening in the wake of Katrina in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, B.B. talks about the pain many people in this region have already experienced over a long period of time. He grew up a sharecropper's son in the Mississippi Delta, picked cotton on a plantation, lost his mother when he was 9 years old, and lived ALONE until he was 14. This is rural Mississippi during the 1920s, '30s and '40s -- not a great place to be as a young black man. This is a place where you had bathrooms for "whites" and bathrooms for "coloreds," and if there was no bathroom for coloreds, you just had to wait. He bought his first guitar for $15 -- a whole month's salary -- and started playing it, sitting on the sidewalk in town, to earn a few dollars. Thank God for the rest of the world that he did. And he still plays today, with a passion and rawness and soul that come through as clearly today as they did 60 years ago.
B.B. King turns 80 this coming Friday. He has a new CD out, a new book out and is still going strong. In our interview, B.B. talks about New Orleans and how he believes it will come back better and stronger. We find out about "Lucille," his famous guitar and how it got that name. He tells Ted the story behind his famous initials, and explains why and how he developed that "vibrato" sound he is so famous for. We pay tribute to him and his music on "Nightline" tonight -- and look forward to having you join us.
Dianna Pierce and the "Nightline" Staff
Senior Guest Segment Producer
ABC News Washington Bureau
Fri Sep 16, 2005 3:42 am
Thanks for the info. It was an outstanding show. My husband and I love B.B. He is one of a kind. By the way, I hope you went over to Jay right after Nightline. He had Wanda Sykes. She is one of the funniest women I have seen. Wish she had more DVDs out. DVDs of the stand-up kind!