If you’ve never caught B.B. King live you’ve missed a great blues show. And if you still want to catch him live you better hurray. He’s in his mid 80’s and won’t be around forever.
Although it’s hard to picture The Blues without B.B. King. The Blues will be a sad place without him.
If you’d like to at least see what his show is like, look at the bottom of the page and you’ll find a video of a complete show from around 2006. He’s still got it!
The B.B. King Live Show
One of the great things about a B.B. King show is he is how entertaining it is. He’s is a consumate showman and always delivers a first-class concert. He makes sure he plays all of his hits and he always seems to know what he’s doing and looks in charge all the time. Amazing at 86 that he can do that.
And his band is always impeccable. The band usually has 8-10 pieces with this instrumentation…
- a second guitarist
- A B-3 player who also plays piano.
- a complete horn section including tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, flugelhorn
- bass player
- and of course B.B.
And most of his band has been with him for many years. That’s just proves the kind of man B.B. King is.
The band usually comes out and does 2-3 songs by themselves before B.B. comes out. And they always get a great reception from the crowd and there’s a good reason. They are all first class musician’s in their own right.
This is the way it’s been at a B.B. King live show since the 1950’s when his hit “Three O’Clock Blues” made him big enough to have a full band and he began to tour regularly. During that time he played more than 300 dates per year. He still plays close to 200 shows per year. Not bad for someone who could have retired a rich man long ago.
But thank God he didn’t.
His concerts still spread the blues to young and old and he embraces all of the young blues guitarists who come along. Like I heard Joe Bonamassa say about B.B. King… “His guitar playing is only matched by his kindness. He has always been very kind to me.”
B.B. King’s High Water Mark
Of course B.B. has had many ups and downs in his long career. And now his longevity is his greatest asset. But certainly the success of his big hit Thrill Is Gone was his high-water mark and when he received the most commercial success in his career. That song continues to be one of the most popular (and most commonly played) blues songs of all time. Any blues guitarist worth his salt must have that song in their repertoire.
Musically you might argue that he had better songs and better eras in his career. I’m a particular fan of the early B.B. King of the 50’s. He played a much more eclectic and high-energy style during that time. If you heard some of that music you might not recognize it was B.B. King. He sounded very different than he does now.
B.B. King Live Show Video
I have a treat for you. Here’s a complete, over 2-hour B.B. King concert. It’s from around 2005 when King was 81. It’s a compilation from shows he did at his own clubs in Memphis and Nashville during a tour.
I hope you enjoy it.