Progressive rock guitarist Steve Hackett has posted the following tribute to the late guitar legend B.B. King:
There are some people who truly earn the title "Guitar Legend". B.B. King is certainly one of them. Whenever I think I have a heavy touring schedule, I'm aware that B.B. King was gigging for most nights of his life. A man from a poverty stricken background, where life circumstances were barely one stage away from slavery, it's incredible to think how far he came.
His playing and singing was way above brilliant. He defined the Blues genre which sustained me for much of my young aspirational times. Two brilliant songs spring to mind... "Have you ever loved a woman?" and "The thrill is gone". Both highlight the darker aspects of love... the desperate feeling of loneliness that love can bring... The primal cry that is the Blues, when your heart is wrenched out with each tortured twisting note. B.B. understood this and spoke for us. The message was sweet and clear.
When he was on stage he was full on, either playing or singing. There are no breaks for the committed Bluesman. I saw him once playing live in London and was blown away by the man who made it look as easy as the art of conversation, his style speaking to everyone in the room soothing all our wounds. Some years later I was proud to see a TV show featuring B.B., Paul Butterfield and my old pal Phil Collins. I believe Clapton was up there too, but at that moment everyone was obviously mesmerised by B.B. himself. He was the real thing, along with Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters. Between them they defined the triumvirate that ruled the Blues.
Around 2002 I played B.B. King's venue in New York, a large venue with a deliberately low rise ceiling. I remember doing two shows in one night. The 'thrill' of that was certainly not lost on me! The place had tremendous atmosphere... the torch handed on by its founder.
Although I never met the man personally, his music has always lived with me. B.B. defining the art of an exquisite soloist combining the simplicity of the blues with the sophistication of his playing. His recent passing makes me want to get out my oldest Gibson Les Paul and play an ode to a man whose spirit will always live on through the fingers of legions of guitarists.