His sound, his touch, his style is in the very DNA of rock, its in the fabric of blues, it’s in the playing of every electric guitar hero, says Neil McCormick
The King is dead. BB King was a man truly deserving of his regal name, one of the biggest and most significant characters in the music of our times.
King was a giant of the electric blues, who came to represent the enduring spirit of the music. He was around before rock and roll was born, playing his fluid, sensitive, weeping lead guitar, pulling those sweet vibrato notes out from the tips of his fingers and singing in that big, gruff, soulful voice. He carried himself with style and poise, always a dapper dresser in double-breasted suits, hair slicked short and sharp.
He was a man you could look up to, exuding warmth and trust. But it was the playing where that noble character truly revealed itself in such a fantastic blend of technique and feeling that everything he touched turned to musical gold.
BB stood for Blues Boy. He helped take this vital form of post-slavery black American muisc from the Mississippi acoustic backwaters where he grew up into the urban groove and jazzy pulse of the modern multi-cultural metropolis, firing up the imaginations of a generation of English and American rockers whilst expanding and deepening his own singing and playing to encompass the rich emotional nuances of soul.
Over a sixty-year career, he embedded himself so deeply and firmly in popular culture that it seems impossible to even think about the blues and not think about BB King. And he did it by playing, and playing, and playing, from the time he was a child picking acoustic guitar and singing in church in the 30s and 40s right up to performing in the White House for the first black American president in 2012
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