My creativity bone is still broken – but I’m pretty sure it’s nearly mended. I’m actually excited to write tomorrow’s article. (It will be Thursday, time for the guitarist better than Hendrix!)
So, I think my creativity bone is almost healed. I almost wrote a lessons about performing, but I decided fuck it… I’ve written a whole lot of them. I’ll finish the series soon, but I’m not writing one today.
This morning, I tried some herbal inspiration but then I had some phone calls to make and it just wasn’t helping.
Well, today, I’m going to tell you about a lovely guitarist and share a story about their guitar. That’s it…
I ain’t even sorry for this! You’re getting this story.
BB King’s guitar, “Lucille.”
You might wonder why I’m writing this. It’s pure selfish. I’m writing this for me. I think you’ll like it.
I truly adore BB King and absolutely think he’d have been the most gregarious person to ever perform with. I have never seen someone angry or frustrated while on the stage with BB. He would always make sure that you were treated as an honored guest.
Except if you were in his back band. Then, he’d actually do that – but he’d use you as excuses to make funny jokes like, “Don’t make me come back there. I’m from Mississippi. I will come back there and cut you.”
He would also make the audience feel special. You were honored to see him in concert and he was honored to be there and to present the many guests he had playing with him. It’s pretty hard to find BB King performing live and without a guest or twenty.
Unfortunately, for all the love I have for him, I disagree with the lists that put BB King down as one of the greatest guitarists.
BB King is not on my list of greatest guitarists and never will be.
He simply wasn’t that good as a technical guitarist. BB plays a scale and bends a few strings and has a signature vibrato. Sometimes, he was playing with people better than him and can’t even figure out what key they were even playing in.
He did not care. He’d let you jam on his stage, telling you “take one more” and admit that you were a far superior guitarist than him. It was an honest assessment.
I sure as fuck can’t have a guitar site and not have something about BB King! That’s just stupid. BB King was on a ton of albums and I’m not sure I could even find a complete list of them. The Wikipedia article is way too small to cover them all. So, it’s incomplete.
Well, I’m gonna tell you about his guitar.
It’s important to know that “Lucille” was not a guitar. Lucille was both a person and any guitar that BB King happened to own and be playing at the time. There are many guitars that bore the name Lucille.
He even had custom guitars with it being in mother of pearl on the head. It didn’t matter… They were all Lucille.
But, there was one guitar….
Back in ye olden days, they’d play in a barn or something like that. It’d be cold and so they’d roll a barrel in, fill it with kerosene, and light it on fire.
I shit you not. They did that.
Well, one day BB was at such a place and the place caught fire. He ran outside and then turned around, ran back into the fire, and rescued a $30 Gibson of an unknown model. That guitar is long since gone – I’m pretty sure. It wasn’t in the museum – I checked personally.
We don’t really know what it was and that’s not even important.
Running back in side scared BB so much that he realized that was a stupid fucking thing to do for a $30 Gibson.
He’d later find out that the fire was started by two men knocking over the barrel while they were fighting over a girl. BB King has never met her, but he further learned that her name was Lucille.
So, he named all his guitars Lucille, so he’d be reminded to never do something so stupid again.
And that’s why his guitar is named Lucille.
He played with everybody. I’m pretty sure he’d have played with you and made you feel like you were the star of the show – no matter what your skill level was. He’d keep encouraging you and always ask you back. He’d make damned sure the audience gave you some appreciation, as well.
When BB King tells you to clap, you clap. It’s fucking BB King. He’s from Mississippi – he might really cut you! (Not really…)
He would always make the lights turn the lights up so that he could see his audience. “Light that beautiful audience up for me. Let me see who these people are that are being too kind to us.”
It was little things like that and more than a passing familiarity that said he had been doing this for a long time and that you could be comfortable allowing him to direct your attention. He had a stage presence that was palpable.
I have seen him live, more than once. He was right when he sang, “You’re gonna miss me, when I’m gone.”
Now, if you want a Lucille, you can have one. There is a Lucille guitar.
In 1980, Gibson made a BB King signature model of the ES-365. Last I knew, you could still order them and they were still making them. I haven’t bothered to verify that they are still being produced.
The ES-365 is a semi-hollow body. It’s got hollows in it. You’ve seen it. It’s characterized by the signature F holes. It’s nothing too spectacular and I see zero reason to recommend disinterested people consider purchasing one. If that’s something that interests you, it’s a good guitar. You can just get a regular semi-hollow model and have just as much fun.
Do note that there’s a bit of an added difficulty level with semi-hollow/hollow body guitars. They can be pretty finicky about feedback and you’ll find that you want either a slight touch or to play it like you own it and it’s paid off. It’s very much about the guitar and finding what I call its happy spot. It will vary some.
Anyhow, that’s not really important. You probably don’t need one. Still, now you know…
Yup… I did it again… I wrote about what I damned well wanted to write about! I hope it at least passes a few minutes of your time and it’s interesting. I tried to fit some lesson type stuff in there, but I’m just not feeling it.
I am still excited to write tomorrow’s article – which seems to be the point where things will kind of go back to what we call normal around here. I think I’ll still do these types of articles – just to keep it fun, but I probably won’t feed ’em to you for a week straight again – at least not for a while.
Thank you for putting up with my blue period. I think I’m better now. I just really wanted to tell you about BB King. I fucking BB King.
Here, I’ll leave you with a long video:
If you won’t watch all of that, then you should see the most tender moment to ever take place on stage. I’ll find a video that shows just that exchange.
This will take you 10 minutes, I recommend watching it. It’s awesome.
He spends pretty much the whole show hitting on Susan Tedeschi – she’s married to the guy on her left, named Derek Trucks. It’s well worth watching the entire thing. Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!