When I bought my first Muddy Waters Record which was “Hard Again” released in 1977 I saw this cool picture of Muddy, James Cotton and Texas guitar hero Johnny Winter laughin’. That album was an absolute masterpierce and still one of my favorite blues albums. As a solo guitarist Winter made numerous album in which you can hear his guitar virtousity. Song like “Shake Your Moneymaker” and “Straycat Blues” are good examples of what a skillful guitarist he was.
‘Life Is Hard’ is a song in Winters trademark guitar style, a slow blues song filled with guitar virtuosity and the lyrics novel like. Johnny released this song on his album Let Me In from 1991.
Life ain’t easy It’s a long, hard, rocky road Well it’s dog, dog eat dog And survival of the fittest, so I’m told…
Photo credit feature picture: By Tom Beetz [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Blues legend B.B. King has passed away at age 89
Today the news came out that Blues legend B.B. King has passed away at age of 89. With his Memphis Blues B.B. King inspired a generation of guitarist. With his guitar Lucille he made brilliant solos, his voice was always deep and soulful. The bluesman dies after decades-long battle with diabetes. Another legend is gone.
B.B. King recorded since ‘Singin’ The Blues’ in 1956 more than 45 albums. My favorite B.B. King songs are listed in this small ode to the bluesman who made the blues accesible for everyone. Who doesn’t know his hit “The Thrill Is Gone” for example. His soulful solo’s made a deep impression on me. Even at an older age he kept performing cause B.B. was always on the road in some years even more than 342 days a year. It shows how dedicated B.B. was he once recalled “I never use that word, retire”.
Growing up at a plantation
B.B. grew up as a poor kid. He told in one of his interviews; “ I was born on a plantation, and things weren’t so good. We didn’t have any money. I never thought of the word ‘poor’ ’til I got to be a man, but when you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is, you’re not doing so well. And your rest room is not inside the house”. According to Wikipedia, B.B. King at the age of 12 purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother’s first cousin. Bukka inspired B. B. and was his mentor during the first years of his career. In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee.
During his long career B. B. King always stayed busy recording en performing. The complete collection contains numerous albums. My favorite albums are listed right below.
1. Singing The Blues Album 1956
‘ Singing the Blues’ is B.B. King’s debut album of on the crown label. It was released in 1956 and you might know ‘Upsets me Baby’ the best. It was the highest charting single reaching #1 on the black singles chart. “Woke Up This Morgning” is a big band song, rhythmic, boogie woogie and vocally very soulful. Besides the succesful release of his debut album, 1956 was also a record breaking year for the blues king with 342 concert bookings and three recording sessions.
2. Kingsize the twenty-fourth album
Another Album that’s worth listening is Kingsize released in 1977. A good grooving album that contains a combination of covers and own work. Especially the lyrics on this album always inspired me. Listen to songs like ‘It is Just a Matter of Time”, “Slow And Easy”, “Walking in the Sun” and “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh”. Also the cover of Preston Foster’s “Got My Mojo Working”, really feels nice. All though the Mojo Working song is covered by many musicians, B.B. knew how to bring a new dimension to the song.
3. Riding with the King with Eric Clapton
“Riding With The King” a collaboration with British Blues great Eric Clapton was released in 2000. It was their first collaborative album and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The main song ‘Riding with the King’ was a real hit, groovy, a bit raw but above all a very convincing song. Who would doubt that B.B. isn’t the King.
It is sad that another great legend has passed away. B.B. was one of the last mohicans of the old blues world, The last of the three Blues kings (Albert and Freddie are both dead). The Blues will always live.