B.B. King Has Died

Way back in 1998, I waited with my friends Rob and Piner backstage at a B.B. King concert to meet the blues legend. I don’t recall which one of us had heard the rumor that, if you waited long enough, B.B. allowed people into his dressing room after the show—whichever one of us uncovered that nugget of information was spot-on. Huddled with less than a dozen other hopefuls, we stood around shivering in the damp cold of a foggy San Luis Obispo night until the magical side door of our newly-constructed state-of-the-art college theater slid open. Once inside, a small line formed in a cramped hallway and one by one we all had an audience with the King.

Infamously (among my friend group), we would go on to say some pretty dorky things to Riley King (ahem, I actually uttered the phrase: “You rock with the best of them, B.B.!”). Mr. King (as Rob addressed him) laughed heartily as if he were laughing with us rather than at us (the same could not be said of his entourage). He chatted with us for several minutes about music and life in our small college town. There were photographs on a counter nearby which he signed for us, and he gave us some guitar picks. These items still hang on my wall today (and I’m not one for keepsakes). In short, for a starry-eyed, over-privileged, 21 year old who played blues on his guitar a half-dozen hours daily, it was a transcendent experience.

B.B. King died last night and that sucks because death. But boy did he live a full (15 kids and 50 grandkids!), musically rich (867 songs written!), itinerant life (250 concerts per year!).

Keep rocking with the best of them, B.B.

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