B.B. King and Lucille 🎸

American musician B.B. King, a very important figure in the development of blues music. died exactly seven years ago, on 14 May 2015.
He was one of the most influential blues musician of all time and his virtuoso guitar technique earned him the title of “king of the blues”. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, he is considered one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar“, along with Albert King and Freddie King.

Riley B. King was born in 1925 on a cotton plantation. Reared in the Mississippi Delta as a child, he worked on a farm and was introduced to music at church, where he sang gospel music and sometimes even performed professionally, but he was forbidden to sing the blues, which was considered “the devil’s music.”
When his employer gave him some money, he bought his first guitar for 15 dollars, an amount that was withheld from his salary until the debt was paid off.

King then turned to blues music and soon found that he earned more money singing and playing the guitar on street corners on Saturdays than he made all week on the plantation.
Known on the local radio, where he was a disc jockey, as the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” shortened to “Blues Boy” and finally to his famous initials “B.B.”, King decided he wanted to make records.
So he left Mississippi for Memphis, Tennessee, which provided him with the exciting musical atmosphere he dreamed of . He settled there permanently in 1948.

King famously referred to his guitar as Lucille. The origin of this nickname dates back to 1949 when a fire broke out in the club where King and his band were playing, after two men got into a fight and knocked over a heater, that is barrel a half-filled with burning kerosene located in the middle of the dance hall.
The burning fuel spilled onto the floor, starting a fire that spread through the ballroom.
The venue was evacuated and King came out of the burning building, but then he realized he had left his beloved $30 Gibson guitar inside, so he ran back to rescue it, risking his life, nearly dying in an attempt.
He later discovered that the two men were fighting over woman called Lucille. Therefore he decided to give that name to each of his subsequent guitars as a reminder to be cautious, not to get into dangerous situations or not to fight over a woman.
Since then, his Lucilles were over forty and usually black!

B.B. King titled his 1968 album simply Lucille: it contains a song of over 10 minutes in which he talks about his guitar and how it got its name, which begins with these words:
The sound that you’re listening to
Is from my guitar that’s named Lucille
I’m very crazy about Lucille
Lucille took me from the plantation
Oh you might say
Brought me fame.
I don’t think I can just talk enough about Lucille”

Then he explains how
“Lucille has practically saved my life two, three times
No kidding, really has”

for example in a car accident where the automobile flipped and Lucille held up the vehicle, sparing his life
“I remember once I was in an automobile accident
And when the car stopped turning over, it fell over on Lucille,
And it held it up off me
Really it held it up off me
So that’s one time it saved my life”

He also talks about the nightclub incident and his gratitude to his guitar: because when
I am lonely
I pick up Lucille” .

or
“when I’m blue, seems like Lucille tries to help me call my name…
When things are bad with me, I can always…
depend on Lucille.”

Il chitarrista americano B.B. King, figura molto importante nello sviluppo della musica blue, è morto esattamente sette anni fa, il 14 maggio 2015.

Fu uno dei musicisti blues più influenti di tutti i tempi e la sua tecnica chitarristica da virtuoso gli valse il titolo di “re del blues”. Inserito nella Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nel 1987 ed è considerato uno dei “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” , insieme ad Albert King e Freddie King (i tre kings/re possono anche far pensare ai tre re magi)

Riley B. King nacque nel 1925 in una piantagione di cotone. Cresciuto nel delta del Mississippi da bambino, lavorò in una fattoria e fu introdotto alla musica in chiesa, dove cantava musica gospel e a volte si esibiva anche professionalmente, ma gli era proibito cantare il blues, considerato “la musica del diavolo”.
Quando il suo datore di valoro gli diede dei soldi, comprò la sua prima chitarra per 15 dollari, importo che gli venne poi trattenuto dallo stipendio fino all’estinzione del debito.
King dedicò quindi alla musica blues e si accorse che guadagnava di più cantando e suonando la chitarra agli angoli delle strade il sabato di quanto non guadagnasse tutta la settimana nella piantagione.
Conosciuto alla radio locale, dove faceva il dj, come “Beale Street Blues Boy”, abbreviato in Blues Boy e infine con le sue famose iniziali B.B, King decise di incidere dischi.
Così lasciò il Mississippi per Memphis, Tennessee, che gli forniva l’eccitante atmosfera musicale che sognava. Vi si stabilì definitivamente nel 1948.

King si riferiva alla sua chitarra con il nome di Lucille. L’origine di questo soprannome risale al 1949 quando nel club in cui King e la sua band stavano suonando scoppiò un incendio in seguito al litigio tra due uomini che nella colluttazione avevano rovesciato una stufa, cioè un barile mezzo pieno di cherosene situato nel mezzo della sala da ballo. Il carburante in fiamme si rovesciò sul pavimento dando l’avvio a un incendio che si diffuse nella sala da ballo.

Il locale fu evacuato e King uscito dall’edificio in fiamme, si rese conto di aver lasciato dentro la sua amata chitarra Gibson da $ 30, per cui rientrò a recuperarla, a rischio della sua vita.
In seguito scoprì che i due uomini stavano litigando per una donna chiamata Lucille. Pertanto decise di dare quel nome a ciascuna delle sue chitarre successive per ricordare che bisogna essere sempre cauti, non mettersi in situazioni pericolose e non litigare per una donna . Le sue Lucille sono state più di quaranta e solitamente nere!

B.B. King intitolò il suo album del 1968 semplicemente Lucille, in cui una canzone di oltre 10 minuti parla della sua chitarra e di come ha preso il nome, e che inizia con queste parole:
“Il suono che state ascoltando
viene dalla mia chitarra
che si chiama Lucille.
Vado pazzo per Lucille.

Lucille mi ha portato fuori dalla piantagione.
Oh si potrebbe dire,
che mi ha portato notorietà.
non credo che potrei mai parlare abbastanza di Lucille.”

Poi spiega come
“Lucille mi ha praticamente salvato la vita due o tre volte.
Non scherzo, lo ha fatto davvero”

per esempio in un incidente d’auto in cui la sua macchina e si è ribaltata e Lucille ha tenuto fermo il veicolo, risparmiandogli la vita:
“Ricordo una volta che ho avuto un incidente automobilistico
e quando l’auto ha smesso di ribaltarsi, è caduta su Lucille,
che me l’ha tenuta lontano
davvero me l’ha tenuta lontano
Quindi quella è stata una volta in cui mi ha salvato la vita.”

Parla anche dell’incidente in discoteca e della sua continua gratitudine alla sua chitarra: perché
“Quando sono solo, prendo in mano Lucille”
oppure
“A volte quando sono giù sembra che Lucille cerchi di aiutarmi
a dire il mio nome ….
Quando le cose mi vanno male, posso sempre…
fare affidamento su Lucille.”

83 thoughts on “B.B. King and Lucille 🎸

  1. Very nice blog on a leading musician , the champion of ‘Beale Street Blues Boy’ , B.B King , rejuvenates us all . How he loved his Guitar was shown with this fact that he went into a fire zone without thinking of its consequences and brought back his Guitar anyhow . But what surprised him more in the burning hall was that two young persons were fighting for a woman called Lucille without apprehending the consequences of burning fire there . Later he gave the name of his Guitar as Lucille as symbol of not to fight for a woman taking risk of life or any thing like fire as such . Your blog always gives us a chance to learn about new things . Thanks !

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Luisa ! My first Novel is on Google named as :

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        Like

      1. Lucille era nero lucido, e lui portava un anello d’oro al dito, quando suonava si vedeva brillare la sua mano, e luccicare la sua chitarra.
        Si è stata un’esperienza incredibile!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. He was diabetic and appeared in a series of ads for some type of monitoring device. It also featured a teenage diabetic who was a wannabe musician. BB was teaching him how to play while playing Lucille, Later ads had them play some duets.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Usually over forty and black”! HA haha!! The man KNEW what he LIKED!!

    Awesome post ~ which we just expect from you, don’t we? Never knew what those two “B’s” stood for, nor the story of Lucille 👌

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have loved B.B King since the first day i heard him a deacde and more ago Luisa. But ofcourse living in India, many things dont come to us like this beautiful story of his Guitars and Lucllle. I can well imagine his love and obsession to it that Lucille becoming as one who could even save his life.

    Thanks for this.
    Narayan x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My wife and I saw BB King with his band in 1989. We were blown away how energetic he (he was about 65 at the time) and the other band members were. It was an awesome concert (it was only about 10 songs), and a great night for blues aficionados 🎸🎸🎸

    Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL. I remember Blues brothers 2. At the end I think it was B.B. King playing in the foreground and at the very end of the big room, a guy who looked like an accountant was playing the guitar. Mr Clapton himself. Saw him in concert. Twice. Unbelievable.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This scene is fab. How bvle can you get. Visual memories can be tricky but it seems to me it was before, in an abandoned warehouse. Not on a stage.
        Having said that, those were still wonderful times: blacks and white playing the Blues together. At the current rate, whites will soon be forbidden to play the Blues.
        Thanks for the music. It was a great gatehring.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you so much for the lovely reply-
        I hope your fear on the future of white-playing blues will be excessive-
        I take the opportunity to wish you a happy weekend 🤩💙🤩

        Like

      4. You too my dear.
        (The woke ideology is growing strong. Soon I won’t be allowed to enjoy Indian music, because I am not Indian… Sigh)
        Or I won’t be allowed to write about women as main characters (which I have) because I am not one…Tssss

        Liked by 1 person

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