This past week, we lost one of the best blues musicians in the business. He may have been born Riley King in Indianola, Mississippi, but we all know that he was B.B. King. He ran his race of life since 1925 and was finished at 89 years old last week. No matter what we have in our music collection, many of us know a B.B. King song, or a guest appearance. For me, I wasn’t a blues fans like my father or those older than me growing up. But like any other fan of black music, I do give B.B. King respect of what he had done and influenced. Plus also, this would be a good chance to see more black musicians to explore Blues Music for the future. So with that, here is my blog letter.

Dear fans of the Blues world, and fans alike to B.B. King, and fans of good music in general:

It’s me Stephen. A blogger from Milwaukee in which I don’t get paid to write.

I share this message today, to not only offer sympathy, but to offer a thing of rally cry to action. First, shout out to the family of the late, great Riley King. As many as know as B.B. King. Thank you for allowing him to show his craft, his lessons, his music and influence on Blues Music as well as many other forms of music in his craft and talents. We all know mostly as this famous Blues Musician, but to you, yes he was your father, grandfather, uncle, cousin and many other extended family member branch of advice. And yes many of us understand that he was your family member first. And I say this out of respect.

For those whom are a fan of Blues Music of his, many of you were probably dusting off the records of your old Vinyl Collection to hear the music that your father or grandfather used to play with B.B. King on it. For my family, many of you don’t know this, in Milwaukee there was band that used to be called The Chefs, and at the time, they used to open for acts for a Summerfest performance of a Tina Turner, the late James Brown, and the now late B.B. King. One memorable story in which one of members I know that when they were playing one of their songs, B.B. King was critiquing them of playing loud. Which he did commented. But that didn’t stop the talent of them performing their hit music piece at the time. However there was positives.

For those of us whom are music fans alike, that probably didn’t follow blues music or weren’t blues fans, but do appreciate the work of B.B. King, it’s ok. The only song that many capture out of him was “The Thrill Is Gone.” That was to me one of his strongest songs, and well known songs. But I also realize that wasn’t his only song that was hit. Many other songs ranging from Blue Boys Tune, to Lucille (as in his guitar), to Rock Me Baby, to Bad Case of Love, Paying the Cost to Be the Boss, to How Blue Can You Get, to his collaboration with Eric Clapton of Riding with the King, to the song: To Know You Is To Love You, Let the Good Times Roll,  and A Story That Everybody Knows. Just a few. Some of that were his best hits. Lifetime hits. Not one hit wonders and that’s it. Many of us whom I think are of Gen X,Y and yes Millennials, we only recognize him as that one strong hit. But like many other musicians like Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson (whom is reviving a new movement), James Brown, and a host of others weren’t only known for a strong hit song, but many hit SONGS!  And B.B. King was one of them that needs to be recognized in his music career. Even B.B. King (as on the forefront as he was) performed at jails of Cook County, and San Quentin. How many of these artists TODAY would play at a Jail House or a Federal Pen for extra performances? Probably NONE! Imagine Jay Z or Beyonce or Lil’ Wayne, The Roots, Ice Cube, Kanye West, or even Kendrick Lamar doing a Hip Hop/R&B Session at a well known Federal Jail or State Jail since prison are big enterprises now per say. Step up for that! If B.B. King had the guts to perform at a San Quentin or Cook County Jail why not some of these today artists that are blowing up the billboards with music ratings, to give the prisoners some music love while serving time!

In the wake of his passing, knowingly there might more blues artists blowing up. But I want to see more blues artists whom are African-Decent show this to their craft. I hear Gary Clark Jr and if you have not heard his songs, it’s mind blowing. Electric Blues in his own craft! The reason why I say this is because black musicians are more than hip hop and rap and R&B mixed with Neo Soul in it. I know that is what we mostly hear. Blues however is like hearing the songs in the Backwoods in the South that many had that natural talent of singing and playing the guitar. Which couldn’t be taught in school folks. It has it’s roots in Afrocentric beats with jazz, gospel, chants, shouts, work songs, juke joints (lot of the older crowds know this well), Rock and Roll and a host of earlier to almost modern forms of music.

Throughout the month of June, I challenge all of my readers and those who just looking, to explore the value of Blues Music. After all, the month of June is Black Music Month and I can’t think of a better way to learn about this style of music for this occasion.There is no question or secret, that B.B. King ran his race. And even the strokes and the Type-Two Diabetes ended his life of 89 years old, what didn’t stop the fact that his influence of Blues Music will not die!

For the TV side of things, the three things I’ll take away was his cameo appearance of him playing the solo on Married…..With Children. Yes he was on there! Plus his guest appearance as Pappy on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air from 1995, and also the moment that he among with other blues musicians played at the White House and having President Obama singing Sweet Home Chicago. Oh, what a moment y’all! Even moments of winning his share of music awards.

May the man of B.B. King rest on in the vision of God.

I know many are gearing up for his Homegoing this week. I’ll bet many will dream about B.B. King going to the gates. And after he checked in, he might go to a room full of guitars and he probably picked out the one that looks like Lucille, but not like Lucille, and the Almighty put him in a heavenly band and he’s just jamming along with Jimi Hendrix, Z.Z. Hill, 2 Pac, Biggie Smalls, Whitney, Michael, Johnny Kemp, Aaliyah and a host of previous musicians that God called home!

So B.B. King fans, be not dismayed with his passing. Hate to sound like the church that pretty soon, we all will have to take this walk. We all have to make the mark to leave. But while we’re here and alive, keep playing his music. Turn it up at your family reunions, your class reunions. For you music teachers, incorporate his music in your lesson plans. For you Black History teachers, please add him to your list of musicians to learn from to your students. And to music lovers everywhere, download, purchase or have your older relatives to bust out the pictures that were valuable with B.B. King in it. Dust off the records that were stored up for years, and do the juke joints well like never before! For the younger folks who probably never heard of him before, it’s OK to listen to your favorites. But NEVER forget, that your favorites of Hip Hop, Rap, Neo Soul, Dance, Electronica, Techno, Rock, or Metal were probably influenced by B.B.King as well. And like many, will probably pay their respects this week in memory.

Keep telling the blues. Literally.

Sincerely,

Stephen

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