My meeting with B. B. King
Tue Nov 30 02:52:22 EST 2004
Cool glimpse at BB King. Thanks for sharing it with us. There is no
other idividual who has influenced my music as much as BB King. I met
him once many years ago when I was a teenager, over the record bins in
Mill Valley's Village Music. I was too tongue-tied to do more than
stammer something about how great he was as I ran for the door. My
respect for BB has only grown in the years that followed. I keep hoping
that maybe someday I'll get to meet him again and tell him what a huge
impact his music has has on my life. I can't wait until the book comes out.
The Jackie Payne Steve Edmonson Band
Dick Waterman wrote:
>I spent several days in Las Vegas with the packagers of an upcoming book that
>will celebrate B. B. King's 80th birthday (September of 2005).
>We visited him at home on Friday and I had the chance to be one-to-one with
>him for several hours with recorders going. I am pretty ignorant on technology
>matters but I can tell you that the sound people were cutting CDs, not taping,
>as we talked. We stopped every 45 minutes so they could put in a blank CD and
>then we continued onward.
>I will just summarize a few points from memory since I did want you to know
>that I paid attention to your requests for what you wanted me to ask.
>As we were starting, he remarked to people in the room that we have known
>each other for almost 40 years and that I had worked with artists who were HIS
>mentors, including his cousin, Booker White.
>Someone sent me an e-mail that said that "Riley King" had played guitar with
>Memphis blues great Frank Stokes many years ago. BB just shook his head when I
>asked him about that. He said, "Boy, that's taking me way way back. I had
>just moved to Memphis and my cousin, Booker White, used to play with Frank on
>weekend afternoons so I just tagged along. I had my guitar with me but I couldn't
>keep up with those two so you can say that I 'played along to play along' but
>I would never go so far as to say that I played with Frank Stokes."
>Anyway, he seemed genuinely happy to recall Stokes so I am grateful for the
>person who suggested that I ask him about it.
>I tossed some names at him and he jumped up in his chair when I said "Ike
>Turner." I know that BB is six years older but Ike was in professional music
>He said that he had made four sides that had gone nowhere so he had no career
>happening at all when ike approached him on behalf of Jules Bihari and
>offered him $100.00 front money and a half penny a side royalties. BB said that he
>would mark his career from that point onward and he is forever grateful to Ike
>for bringing him the deal. BB is immensely fond of Jules Bihari and spoke very
>warmly of how he was treated by him.
>He said that he had met several Presidents but had no real affection for any
>of them between JFK and Bill Clinton. He has a photo on his wall of him posing
>with Lee Atwater and the first George Bush. I knew that he had played at his
>Inaugural Gala but I knew that it would be a mood breaker to bring that
>subject up so I avoided it.
>i wanted to spend time getting him to discuss his Kennedy Center Award and I
>think that I got some things out of him that he had never discussed before.
>When he was at the White House reception for the five honorees prior to going to
>the Kennedy Center, he said that President Clinton told him that he had seen
>BB gave this a congenial nod, thinking that it was meaningless small talk but
>then Clinton told him where he had seen him, when it was and who else was on
>the show. BB did a double take because Clinton had exact recollection on every
>I asked him what he felt when Bonnie Raitt, Doctor John, Steve Cropper and
>the others had finished their tribute and 3000 people came to their feet and
>looked up at him as he stood next to President and Mrs. Clinton.
>I said, "It's a long ways from indianola."
>He couldn't really bring forth his emotions in words but he tried to explain
>that he knows that there are better guitarists, better vocalists and better
>entertainers. He feels that he is supremely blessed to have somehow reached fame
>and financial security while others have not.
>I kidded him that his dressing room these days is filled with dozens of
>people who once worked for radio stations, night clubs, ballrooms, record companies
>and other businesses that have long ceased to exist.
>He knew that I was joking but he gave me a serious answer. He said, "Those
>folks all did something for me at some point. Maybe it was 30 or 40 years ago
>but I needed them back then and they were there to help me so my dressing room
>is always open to them. I hope I never get to a point where I don't remember to
>thank the people who helped me over the years."
>When we were finishing he said, "I remember that you used to stutter really
>badly years ago and I stuttered too when I was offstage. So how did you stop
>i said, "I guess that i got good at doing something and I got some confidence
>and my stuttering went away"
>Then I said, "How did you stop?"
>And he put his hand on my shoulder, smiled and said, "Same way."
>He is a geuinley nice man and I hope that you know that I was aware that I
>was representing you while I was talking to him.
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