Tuesday, May 19, 2015

B.B. King's Best Live Performances

Blues icon B.B. King left behind an extraordinary musical legacy.

The universal outpouring of love for B.B. King over the past several days is a testament to the legendary guitarist’s massive legacy and how many millions he has touched with his music and performances over the years. B.B.—who died last Thursday at 89—was one of most iconic and influential blues artists to ever take the stage; he had an immeasurable impact on modern music and was major influence on a slew of celebrated guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Mark Knopfler, Carlos Santana, Duane Allman and Buddy Guy, among countless others.

And it wasn’t just his soulful guitar playing, powerful voice and magnetic stage presence that endeared him to so many; it was also his humble and jovial demeanor. His laidback, down-home charm made everyone feel completely at ease in his presence, both onstage and off.  He was a true gentleman and a class act in every way. In recognition of the blues legend’s passing, I thought I’d put together a list of my five favorite B.B. King performances. Here they are in no particular order:

B.B. Performing “How Blue Can You Get” at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (1972)

B.B. brought the house down with this electrifying performance of “How Blue Can You Get” (aka “Downhearted”) at the notorious maximum security prison Sing Sing in New York. The revered bluesman brought his patented stage charisma and humor to this powerful performance. The performance was part of a concert that B.B. and famed folk singer Joan Baez put on for Sing Sing’s inmates in 1972.

B.B. Performing “Sweet Little Angel” with James Brown at the Beverly Theater (1983)

James and B.B. lit up the stage with a soul-stirring performance of blues standard “Sweet Little Angel." This was one of the many highlights of the historic concert that B.B. and James put on at the Beverly Theater in Los Angeles in 1983.  This was also the same concert in which Prince and Michael Jackson made brief guest appearances onstage.

B.B. Performing “The Thrill is Gone” in Montreux (1993)

B.B. delivered a majestic performance of the timeless blues classic “The Thrill is Gone” at his 1993 concert in Montreux.

B.B. and Gladys Knight performing “Please Send Me Someone To Love” (1987)

B.B. and Gladys Knight set the stage on fire with this show-stopping rendition of Percy Mayfield’s blues ballad “Please Send Me Someone To Love” at Los Angeles' Ebony Showcase Theatre in 1987. Both music legends dazzled the audience with their inimitable musical gifts.

B.B. Performing “Let The Good Times Roll” at the Beverly Theater (1983)

B.B. got the joint jumpin' with a rousing, crowd-pleasing rendition of Louis Jordan’s jump-blues classic during his concert with James Brown at the Beverly Theater in 1983.

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