One of the greatest storytellers of our time has died. B.B. King passed away today in Las Vegas. The legendary blues musician was 89. Please allow me to quote from presentationzen.com. This excerpt is from a post I wrote ten years ago called Presentation, blues, and tapping into your creative soul:
B.B. King is a legend. No one does it like he does. He's not flashy and he doesn't try to impress with speed or technique. That's not what it's about. That's not what the blues is about. It's about telling a story and making a connection in a way that can not be duplicated by anyone else. If you are being true to yourself and the audience, if you are authentic, how could it possibly be duplicated?
Many people can play good technique. With study, technique is not too difficult for many people. Computers, for example, can play "perfect technique." But even with perfect technique, computer-generated blues would lack substance and would seem empty. It would seem empty because there is no "feel" to it. To me "feel" is that kind of perfectly imperfect human quality that conveys emotion and the spontaneity of the time. That one moment in time that can not be repeated the same way again. And that's beautiful.
Five hundred years from now—a thousand years from now—they will still be playing B.B. King songs and paying tributes. B.B. King masterfully told stories with his songs, but rather than link to one of his legendary hits here, please take a look at this short video featuring B.B. King sharing a story from his younger days, with another legend Buddy Guy. It's beautiful.
The Thrill is Gone
Here's B.B. King from 1993 storytelling through one of his classics. Put the headphones on and crank up the volume. It's wonderful. As Jimi Hendrix said, "Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel." Is there anyone who played and sang more evocatively than B.B. King? He was the true master of communicating feelings.
Long live the King.