B.B. King was a legendary American musician popularly known as the ‘King of the Blues’. He is respected for popularizing the genre of blues globally while having a profound influence on the Blues musicians. During his initial days, he worked as a disc jockey and then moved to Memphis in search of better opportunities. He started off by performing on a popular radio program which brought him a ten-minute spot on the Memphis Radio Station. This helped him get his first bite of fame which attracted several recording contracts. In the first three years, his career was a bit dull but it all changed with his single titled ‘3 O'Clock Blues’. It became his first most notable work and was a huge commercial success. It also topped the ‘Billboard’s Rhythm and Blue’s charts’. This encouraged him to go on musical tours and he was soon seen performing hundreds of shows every year. The year 1956 was a record-breaking year for him as he was booked for more than 300 concerts and also a few recording sessions. He further did various live performances and recording to become a legend in the R&B genre of music. The one-of-a-kind King would be remembered not only for his music but also for his canny wit and inspirational words and thoughts. Go through the quotes and thoughts by B.B. King which is sure to strike the right chord.
I was born on a plantation, and things weren't so good. We didn't have any money. I never thought of the word 'poor' 'til I got to be a man, but when you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is, you're not doing so well. And your rest room is not inside the house.
'She's Dynamite' was a 100 years ago, and I recorded that song because the company thought that it was a great song and it was hot. That was the beginning of rock n' roll, and I guess they thought it would be a BB King version of rock n' roll.
I almost chopped my thumb off once. Just before I left home, I was about ten or eleven years old, and I was trying to open a bone. Can you imagine that? A bone! I was trying to get the marrow out of a bone, and I took the ax, and I went to chop it, and something slipped, and the ax went right down there and damn near cut it off.
My mother was a very beautiful lady, I thought. She was very good to me. I guess - she died when I was nine and a half, but if she had lived, I probably wouldn't be trying to play guitar. She wanted me to be known, but as something else. Not a guitar player.
Back when we was in school in Mississippi, we had Little Black Sambo. That's what you learned: Anytime something was not good, or anytime something was bad in some kinda way, it had to be called black. Like, you had Black Monday, Black Friday, black sheep... Of course, everything else, all the good stuff, is white. White Christmas and such.
I don't have a favorite song that I've written. But I do have a favorite song: 'Always on My Mind,' the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it like he do, I would sing it every night. I like the story it tells.
When people treat you mean, you dislike them for that, but not because of their person, who they are. I was born and raised in a segregated society, but when I left there, I had nobody I disliked other than the people that'd mistreated me, and that only lasted for as long as they were mistreating me.
I think of guitar players in terms of doctors: you have the doctor for your heart, the cardiologist, then one that works on your feet, your leg. But I believe George Benson is the one that plays all over. To me, he would be the M.D. of them all.
I have not been a good father, but no father has loved his children more. Like my father, I decided the best thing I could do for my kids was work and provide. Fortunately, I've been able to do that. Unfortunately, my work was on the road, and that's meant a life of one-nighters.
I didn't want to disrespect my parents, so I never played blues around the house. But I knew then, same as I know today, that I wasn't doing anything wrong. I think that before they died, they both felt very proud of me.
I have a nice car, a Mercedes. And then I have an old El Camino truck that I'm crazy about. I like to get in that truck and go up in the hills near where I live, in Vegas, and take my camera. That, to me, is Heaven, being out in nature, taking pictures of the wildlife.
I just wonder where I was when the talent was being given out, like George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Eric Clapton... oh, there's many more! I wouldn't want to be like them, you understand, but I'd like to be equal, if you will.
I liked blues from the time my mother used to take me to church. I started to listen to gospel music, so I liked that. But I had an aunt at that time, my mother's aunt who bought records by people like Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and a few others.
Touring a segregated America - forever being stopped and harassed by white cops hurt you most 'cos you don't realise the damage. You hold it in. You feel empty, like someone reached in and pulled out your guts. You feel hurt and dirty, less than a person.
You've heard me call myself a bluesman and a blues singer. I call myself a blues singer, but you ain't never heard me call myself a blues guitar man. Well, that's because there's been so many can do it better'n I can, play the blues better'n me. I think a lot of them have told me things, taught me things.
When I do eventually drop, I pray to God that it'll happen in one of three ways. Firstly, on stage or leaving the stage, then secondly in my sleep. And the third way? You'll have to figure that out for yourself!
As for my band, well, my mentors were Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, and no one had a band more smartly dressed than Duke.
I never wanted to be like other blues singers. I might like hearing them play, but I've never wanted to be anyone other than myself. There are a few people that I've wished I could play like, but when I tried, it didn't work.
My wife Martha used to call me Ol' Lemon Face because of my facial contortions when I play Lucille. I squeeze my eyes and open my mouth, raise my eyebrows, cock my head and God knows what else. I look like I'm in torture, when in truth, I'm in ecstasy. I don't do it for show. Every fiber of my being is tingling.
Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said to make the audience understand what I'm trying to do more. When I'm singing, I don't want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.
I developed in my head that I'm never any better than my last concert or the last time I played, so it's like an audition each time. You get nervous just before going onstage. I still have that, but I think it's more like concern. You're concerned about the people - like meeting your in-laws for the first time.
I don't feel that no big stone should be put over my head, saying he did this, he did that. Unless there's something that I really did do. I believe I'm just ordinary. And I'd like for people to think of me that way, as just a guy that tried. Wanted to be loved by other people because he loved people.
Even now, at 82 years old, if I don't learn something every day, you know what I think? It's a day lost. Now, I don't practice every day. I just take the guitar, swear at it. But I should be swearing at myself. But I fool with music. I'm doing something musically all the time. And my ears are wide open for anything I can hear.
My dad died, I think, at 87. So I'll be lucky if I make 87. But in a lot of cases, the younger people live longer than their parents. And they know more. My dad used to tell me he ate the hog from his rooter to his tooter. So do I when I'm not trying to lose weight.
My last divorce was in '68. What made it come to a head was a promise. See, I had promised her that the next year I wouldn't work as much. But then I got in trouble with the IRS, and I had to continue working just as much to pay the government. So she said I lied, which is something I never did.
I'm more careful about my hands than about what I eat and most anything else, because my hands have been my living. My hands have been able to help me learn. My hands have taken me around the world. So I'm very proud of my hands.
I tell my children now that they are older, 'If something happens to me... don't make no big fuss over me. Don't make no big expense on my funeral. Don't put any pressure on the rest of the family. I've loved everybody, and I hope they loved me. But don't create this big expense for the family.'
If my fans want to do something for me when that time comes, I say, don't waste your money on me. Help the homeless. Help the needy... people who don't have no food... Instead of some big funeral, where they come from here and there and all over. Save it.
I've been a loner all the time throughout my life... I haven't been the best father... Many times... my children have accused me of not giving them enough attention. And, frankly, I never have been good at handling that.
I would sit on the street corners in my hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, and I would play. And, generally, I would start playing gospel songs. People would come by on the street - you live in Time Square, you know how they do it - they would bunch up. And they would always compliment me on gospel tunes, but they would tip me when I played blues.
Whenever I'm in Kansas City, I think back to all the jazz-blues greats who played the blues here - like Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Jay McShann. I watched those guys jam in different places and heard a lot of things - but I couldn't do what they did. They were too good.
In our local Baptist church, I sang in the choir and formed a gospel quartet. When our minister caught me messing with his guitar, he taught me three positions - one, four and five. After that, I taught myself to play.