B. B. King, Defining Bluesman for Generations

The thrill is not yet gone as he helped pave the way to great artists and inspired many more to keep up the fight. 

“Growing up on the plantation there in Mississippi, I would work Monday through Saturday noon,” he said. “I’d go to town on Saturday afternoons, sit on the street corner, and I’d sing and play.

“I’d have me a hat or box or something in front of me. People that would request a gospel song would always be very polite to me, and they’d say: ‘Son, you’re mighty good. Keep it up. You’re going to be great one day.’ But they never put anything in the hat.

“But people that would ask me to sing a blues song would always tip me and maybe give me a beer. They always would do something of that kind. Sometimes I’d make 50 or 60 dollars one Saturday afternoon. Now you know why I’m a blues singer.”

And from the New Yorker :

That tension in his music—it was, in retrospect, I suppose, a play between a jazz ear and a blues hand, and even between the city and the country—paid off in a quality that I recognized at once that night, though I might not have known the word for it. It was the thing that marked him off from all those earnest English pasticheurs: B. B. King swung.

Credit : Danny Clinch

→ The New York Times