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The Time I Met B.B. King

BB King Autograph

Blues legend B.B. King died two days ago, and I’ve been thinking a lot about him since I heard the news. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he appeared at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Kentucky back in the mid-eighties. A friend of mine set up the meeting, and once inside B.B.’s dressing room, I found him to be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

When my wife and I went in, he invited us to sit for a while. Despite the fact that he’d just played two shows, he treated us as family and shared a few stories, one that included his own impersonation of Dizzy Gillespie. At one point, he asked me how I’d heard of him in the first place, and I told him I loved the Beatles and that John Lennon had said he wanted to “play guitar like B.B. King.” He seemed to appreciate the British bands that emulated American blues music.

B.B. King was a great musician and a great man besides, and I’ll never forget how personable he was that night. I should mention that the whole time we were there, he played blues music on a small cassette player. It’s as though he couldn’t be separated from the music, and to me and to millions of others, he never will be.