Friday, May 15, 2015


The King of the Blues, BB King has died.

He got the nickname BB as a young musician playing in Memphis -- it stood for "Blues Boy".  Over the years I have seen him in concert several times.  Because of his diabetes, in his later years he had to be helped on stage, and seated in a chair.  But when he played, the riffs and strums were just a fresh, passionate and vibrant as always. 

I met him once at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1993.  It was intermission during the taping of the program.  We both approached the men's room at the same time, and immediately struck up a conversation about music. 

It was funny that we were next to each other in a long line waiting to use the facilities.  Ahead of us were Henry Kissinger, numerous politicians, and Laurence Tisch, my ultimate boss at CBS back then.  But my total attention was focused on The King. 

We continued to talk as we slowly worked our way into the restroom.  As Congressmen and dignitaries walked past us, they took little notice of this legendary musician.  It occurred to me that these folks were more interested in being seen than in acknowledging others. 

When we completed our visit to the men's room we stood at the back of the magnificent Kennedy Center theater and continued our conversation.  A few minutes later the lights were dimmed, and an announcer asked that everyone take their seats. 

BB King and I shook hands.  He said, "Wait a minute."  He then reached for his wallet, dug deep inside one of the pockets, and pulled out a guitar pick with BB King inscribed on the front.  "Here," he said, "it's been nice talking with you."  I examined the pick and enthusiastically expressed my gratitude.  We shook hands and parted ways.

I framed the pick and placed it on a table in my living room at home.  A couple years later I added a Gibson to the guitars that I own.  BB played a Gibson he call "Lucille."

BB King had a remarkable influence on music over the past six decades.  He was an inspiration to many great musicians, including Eric Clapton.   

BB King a dear friend and inspiration to me....
Posted by Eric Clapton on Friday, May 15, 2015

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