B.B. King played the Hershey Theatre in Hershey, PA on 01-08-2011. At 85 years old, B.B. King still tours more than many bands that are 1/3 of his age. Over a period of 52 years, he has played over 15,000 performances. That is almost 300 performances per year!
What a great experience it was to be able to photograph another one of my living legends, Mr. B.B. King! Unfortunately, the shoot was from the soundboard due to venue rules so I do not have any closeups of B.B., but the opportunity alone was all worth it!
It has been 10 years, almost to the day (01-23-2000), since I had last seen B.B. King perform. That was one of my favorite nights of my life as I got to meet the B.B. King after the show, get his autograph, as well as receive several guitar picks and memento pins from him. I was (and still am) in awe of how genuinely nice he is after getting to meet him in person.
If you are not familiar with any of BB King’s work, do yourself a favor and listen to ”The Thrill Is Gone”. You will experience his legendary guitar mastery (he is a vibrato virtuoso and the abie to get more out of a single note than most guitarists can with a whole fretboard) and his soulful and painfully bluesy voice that he is known for. BB King will some day be in the history books with other legends such as Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, Robert Johnson, etc it is not too late to see a living legend on tour.
As usual, B.B. King’s impressive back up band played the intro to the show without B.B. on stage to warm everyone up and show everyone what they are capable of. They all take turns soloing and belting out their version of the blues. After ten minutes or so, B.B. King walked out onto the stage to an appreciative standing crowd. He greats the band as if it were a ritual each night, takes a seat and then threw out handfuls of guitar picks and other B.B. King mementos. After his beloved guitar named Lucille was handed to him, he traded a few licks with the band and then began to tell a story. If you have ever seen B.B. before, you know that he likes to tell a lot of stories. They are always funny and have a great message.
After that, the night flew by playing many fan favorites from his catalog including: “Every Day I Have The Blues”, “Key To The Highway”, “Nobody Loves Me but My Mother”, “Rock Me Baby”, and of course “The Thrill Is Gone”.
At 85 years old, there are signs of B.B. King finally slowing down but that does not take anything away about this legend. He has paved the way for thousands of bluesmen that followed him throughout the years. At this day in age, you owe it to yourself to see the “Blues Boy King” while he is still touring.
While in no particular order, this was basically the setlist for the night:
I Need You So
Every Day I Have The Blues
Darling You Know I Love You
Key To The Highway
Nobody Loves Me but My Mother
How Blue Can You Get
I Believe I’d Give Up Living
You Are My Sunshine
Rock Me Baby
The Thrill Is Gone