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Don Goes Backstage with Blues Legend B.B. King

June 30, 2015

The Thrill is Gone -  B.B. at the Crossroads Festival

 

I was covering a B.B. King concert at a big Club one weekend. B.B.’s agent joined me and we went out for a nice dinner during the first half of the show. We knew B.B. would start on time and take his break almost exactly the same time each night. So after dinner we drive over to the Club, a huge dark room filled with well-dressed folks. B. was just finishing up "The Thrill Is Gone," one of my favorites and the usual final song of his first set.

 

We gave him five minutes to relieve himself and towel off and headed to the dressing room; our business cards got us past all the security. The dressing room was a long narrow space, with folding chairs lined against the walls facing each other. Like many artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, every chair was filled with a friend or family member from the area hanging out with The Man. I believe a bottle of Jack Black was being passed around in a paper bag.

 

Whenever I was meeting with an artist I tried to think of a conversation starter first, it made it easier on both of us to have something to talk about. B.B. had just been to the Soviet Union, this was before the fall of the Wall in Berlin and he was part of a "Cultural Exchange."

 

So after his agent gave him a quick update on his schedule, he said, "B.B., you remember Don here from your record company? B.B. nodded yes, we all probably looked the same to the artists and were interchangeable. I made my move. "Well B.B., how did you like Russia?" He was holding Lucille caressing her strings, and looked up at me and said, "Oh Don, they ain’t got shit to eat over there."

 

That was it, Mr. B.B King’s views on the entire Soviet Union honed down to one line, I wondered if he’d included that observation in his Trip Report to the State Department. We bid him goodnight, and retired to the bar and to enjoy listening to the man Clapton referred to as "The greatest guitar player in the world."

 

 Rock Me Baby - B.B. King, Jimmy Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy

 

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