So many words have already been written since the passing of B.B. King, and there’s little that I could add that would do him any more justice. He was an extraordinary talent who was the best ambassador the blues ever had. Without him there would be no rock and roll—American music as we know it would not exist.
I first became aware of him when I was a kid watching Sanford and Son, and then I got reacquainted with him at Live Aid and Farm Aid in 1985. I really started to appreciate him in junior high school when I delved deeply into blues music. My family and I visited his nightclub in Memphis many years ago, and though he was not there that night the music and atmosphere in his joint were infused with his indelible presence, and we felt like we were sitting right next to him.
B.B. was one of those artists who has always been there, but now we have to deal with life without his beautiful, familiar smile. Thankfully, we will always be able to hear his smooth yet powerful voice accompanying his nimble fingers as they strum along Lucille’s ready strings. And we can hope to continue hearing his influence in the music of those who looked to him for inspiration. But nobody will ever come near his legacy. Never again will anyone ever inspire so many musicians the way he did. Modern music is not like it was when B.B. was coming up. And now that he’s gone home, it will never be the same. The blues just got a little more blue.