Voiceover by Lawrence Standifer Stevens
Written by Joseph E. Casanova
Blues giant BB King thrilled audiences for decades and influenced guitarists of all musical genres.
My friend Linda Freeman loves the blues, especially B.B. King. and his famous Gibson guitar “Lucille.”
She played a little guitar herself as well as drums and shared lead vocals in an Austin rock band called “Mother’s Little Helper” in the 1980’s.
Linda paid tribute to her musical hero in 2000 as she recorded one of his standards, “Dance with Me,” with her band Wine, Wine, Wine in Dallas.
B.B. King died a few days ago at age 89 at his home in Las Vegas. He had become part of San Antonio’s musical landscape with numerous stints at the Majestic Theatre and Floores Country Store.
He was born Riley King on Sept. 16, 1925 in Mississippi. He shortened his nickname to “B.B.” after working as a Memphis radio deejay where he was known as "Blues Boy King.”
The blues giant racked up 15 Grammies in 30 nominations, including one for the raucous duet “When Love Comes to Town,” featured on U2’s 1988 album Rattle and Hum.
King’s musical catalogue includes 75 hit R&B singles between 1951 and 1992, some of which were featured in his 2012 documentary “The Life of Riley,” narrated by Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.
“Life of Riley” featured appearances and contributions from U2 frontman Bono, blues siren Bonnie Raitt, hip guitarist John Mayer and Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers.
I recently reconnected with Linda on Facebook for the first time in nearly 30 years. We had worked together at The University Star, the college newspaper at Texas State, for a few years. It was so awesome to talk with her as well as some of our other Star friends.
Linda said she was so blessed to see King perform and recalled “how his voice filled the room” at that Austin City Limits taping.
B.B. King may be gone, but the thrill of listening to his music will live on forever.