Blues lovers say bye bye to BB

James Trimble.
James Trimble.

Another blues legend has bent his last string and belted out his last song.

BB King was 89-years-old and not in the best of health according to all reports. You know famous musicians are calendar material when their families start bickering with the star’s manager over money and sure enough the legend died on May 14 in Las Vegas.

Sadly Riley B King had not been at his best on the live stage for the last few years and, ironically, that’s when Glastonbury came a-calling to give the veteran bluesman a slot back in 2011.

Being a major BB King fan since I first heard him play ‘Into the Night’ in the John Landis film of the same name, I watched that set on the telly and it was a wee bit of an embarrassment to be honest with you.

His voice was still strong, but his guitar skills had sadly eroded to those of a mere mortal – and a right old mere mortal at that.

All the brightly coloured festival goers cheered and waved their arms, but there was nothing really to cheer or wave about.

I prefer to remember the BB King I saw at the Clyde Auditorium a couple of years before the turn of the century when he put on the best musical display I’ve ever seen. He played the audience almost as effortlessly as he played his guitar.

Only a geeky young gun by the name of Joe Bonamassa came close to eclipsing that night, with a faultless pile-driving performance at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall a few years back.

BB shaded it though because he threw out guitar picks at the end of his show.

My favourite BB quote comes from his 1967 album ‘Blues Is King’: “We’re going to do our best to try and move you tonight. If you like the blues, I think we can”. He certainly moved me.