Rolling Stone magazine ranked B.B. King as the third greatest guitar player in the world on their list of “100 Greatest Guitarists.” But truth be told, Riley B. King was the No. 1 blues guitarist in the world. Not only did his music cross into the pop charts with “The Thrill is Gone,” but he opened the door for many current blues and pop musicians that might not have had those opportunities without him.
I consider it a blessing that his stolen Lucille found me after being hocked at a pawn shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, back in 2009, because this allowed me the chance to meet Mr. King in person and share some of his “rare air” in talking about the blues, Bo Diddley, and his beloved Gibson Lucille guitars. I don’t think we will see another like him in our generation, and the only blues guitarist left to the carry the torch in his passing is Buddy Guy. A radio interviewer asked me what I thought B.B. King’s legacy was and how we could honor him. We must honor him through what he gave the world by listening to, playing, and sharing his great blues music. Mr. King was a humble man who cared deeply for his family, took care of his band members, supported charities (like the American Diabetes Association), and was a positive force in this world. The ripples of his legacy will live on for years, just like the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Missouri, is a reflection of his life’s achievements. My plan is to find all of my B.B. King albums, listen to him this weekend, and soak it in. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. King’s family, and I hope they find the peace that he has achieved.