Arts, Entertainment

The Thrill is Gone: Music Legend B.B. King Passes Away at 89

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Image: Eyellgeteven
Image: Eyellgeteven

In blues music there are three kings: Albert King, Freddie King, and B.B. King. And while Albert and Freddie were tremendous guitar players and enormously talented singers, it was B.B. who would become the face of the blues for over 75 years.

On May 14, 2015, the music legend passed away at the age of 89, leaving a legacy of 43 studio albums, 16 live albums, and 138 singles.

Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 on the Berclair cotton plantation where he was raised by his grandmother. He sang in the gospel choir as young boy and purchased his first guitar when he was 12.

When he was 23, he began to play on radio stations in Memphis, Tennessee and very quickly gained an audience. In fact, he soon earned the nickname “Blues Boy King,” and, finally, his nickname for life, “B.B.”

B.B. King soon after took his beloved guitar, “Lucille” on the road and, for several decades, performed 250-300 shows a year. (By comparison, Katy Perry performed 150 shows in 2014, Taylor Swift will play 70 in 2015).

During his illustrious career, there have been many stories told about B.B. King, but perhaps none more famous than how his Gibson ES-335 was given the name “Lucille.” During one show in Twist, Arkansas, two men started to fight. As the fight escalated, a gas burning light was knocked over and the small venue caught fire. Like everyone else, B.B. hurried out as fast as he could. But once he was safely outside, he quickly recalled that his guitar remained on stage, inside the blaze. With reckless love for his instrument, he ran back inside to retrieve it. When the ashes had settled, it was discovered that the fight between the two men had started over a young woman named Lucille. B.B later said he named his guitar “Lucille” as reminder not to fight or run into burning buildings.

But ask any music lover or aspiring guitarist and they will have their own story about B.B. King: the first time they heard him play, sing, or were lucky enough to see him in concert.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
B.B King named his guitar “Lucille” and loved it like a real person. Do you have something in your life that you love that much? What is it and why do you love it so much?

Reading Prompt: Elements of Style
The first paragraph of a newspaper article is designed to captivate and draw in the reader. It is after the first paragraph that readers decide if they are interested in the story and want to continue reading, or if they want to read something else.

Read the first paragraph of this article a few times. What did the journalist do to capture your interest so you would read more?

Junior
Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Intermediate
Identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Language Feature: Nicknames vs. Terms of Endearment
The nickname that B.B. King was given was “Blues Boy King,” which was later shortened to B.B. This nickname replaced his regular name so it is written using capital letters.

Terms of endearment, however, are not written with capital letters. These could include “honey,” “sweetie,” “buddy” etc. Since they are not used to replace a name the same way nicknames are, they are not capitalized.

Do you have any nicknames? What are they? Does anyone, such as a family member or friend, have a term of endearment for you? What is it?