BB King is responsible for a lot of the music I love, and without his unparalleled contributions to music history I cannot imagine what the landscape of popular music would be today. As a purveyor of Delta blues, King transcended with swinging rhythms that made his brand of blues, no matter how lyrically downtrodden, sound like an ebullient celebration. BB King, the uncontested king of blues, was 89.
King, who grew up on a plantation in Mississippi, found his voice by playing on street corners on his days off. Over the course of eight decades, King solidified his legacy with both his music and ever-winsome personality that made you want to stop what you were doing and listen. The 15-time Grammy winner was also inducted into the Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006, and a recipient the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. Among those who considered king a massive influence are Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jimi Hendrix.
In thinking about King and his legacy, I was always most transfixed by how effortlessly optimistic King seemed. Sure he was singing the blues, full of woeful lyrics about a flames burnt out, and sure he had his share of health problems as a diabetic, but he always made you feel like these moments of trial heightened the positive moments. He seemed genuinely appreciative to be on stage, cradling his beloved guitar Lucille, and sharing his life story through his music.
That’s why I went with “Let The Good Times Roll”. It’s okay to be sad today, but I don’t think King would want you wasting any precious time feeling down and out: “You only live once, when your dead you’re done, so let the good times roll.” Thanks for all the good times BB.