Although we lost BB King last week, his iconic song “The Thrill Is Gone” continues to resonate in my head. For any contemporary music lover, the impact B.B. had over the past 40 years is probably as impactful as Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong had on jazz.
I remember first hearing Mr. King live in 1970 in San Luis Obispo. In those days, Cal Poly had about 9,500 students, but it was a good stopping spot for many groups making the trek from L.A. to S.F. I was able to see legendary musicians such as B.B. King, Jim Morrison (Doors), Four Tops, Temptations, Steve Miller, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane), and many more during my time in that sleepy Central California town.
Yet, it was King who I probably remember the best. He had been around for a few years and acid rock was in the midst of it’s hey-day. Many of us were familiar with the name, but really weren’t knowledgeable of his music. He opened for Steve Miller (a Dallas legend) and between both of them it was a heck of a show. Miller was an up and coming act, but it was the old man, as I thought of him, who really strutted his stuff. With the legendary Lucille strapped to his back, he showcased his style of electric blues that made many of us highly appreciative — if not lovers — of that form of music.
B.B. King may be gone — but the thrill of his music will be with me forever.