Celebrating B.B King


Elad Gov-Ari

“Blues Boy” (B.B) King is, was and always will be the face of the blues. As we begin our celebration this month of African American achievement, we can peer into the change King brought to the notions of “racial” music.
As a young man in the 1940’s, King travelled across the south performing his blues on street corners with his trusty guitar Lucille, earning dimes at a time. Playing primarily to a black audience, the guitarist looked to expand his audience and was able to do so with his first 1965 live album, Live at the Regal. The album was so visceral and raw that it welcomed all listeners to come and feel what King was playing.  The success of that record allowed for King to collaborate with larger acts, such as Eric Clapton and George Harrison, and ultimately to garner an audience for the genre.
Blues and jazz, previously revered as “black music” was opened to the masses, allowing all races of Americans, and eventually the entire world, to come together and experience the heartfelt playing of the legendary B.B King, alongside other class acts such as Buddy Guy and Freddy King. Gaining great commercial success, King acted as a catalyst for people to ignore racial differences, in the time of segregation, and simply to enjoy the sounds of his heart and admire the musicianship of his music.