Tribute to Blues Legend B.B.King

I was saddened by the news that Legendary American Blues singer, songwriter and Guitarist B.B. King, sadly passed away 14 May 2015. Born September 16, 1925 King grew up singing in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. At the age of 12, he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, or may have been given it by Bukka White, his mother’s first cousin (King’s grandmother and White’s mother were sisters). In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John’s Quartet of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi. In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months. He returned to West Memphis, Arkansas, two years later in 1948 and performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, and This led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the legendary Memphis radio station WDIA. King’s Spot became so popular, it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club.Initially he worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname Beale Street Blues Boy, which was later shortened toBlues Boy and finally to B.B.It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker.

In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of King’s early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. Before his RPM contract King had debuted on Bullet Records by issuing the single “Miss Martha King” (1949), which did not chart well. “My very first recordings [in 1949] were for a company out of Nashville called Bllet, the Bullet Record Transcription company,” King recalls. “I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin, played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas Branch, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player. The Newborn family were the house band at the famous Plantation Inn in West Memphis.”Performing with his famous guitar, LucilleKing assembled his own band; the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee. The band initially consisted of Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone),George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano),George Joyner (bass) and Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums). Onzie Horne was a trained musician elicited as an arranger to assist King with his compositions. By his own admission, he cannot play chords well and always relies on improvisation.

This was followed by tours across the USA with performances in major theaters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and St. Louis, as well as numerous gigs in small clubs and juke joints of the southern US states.In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. In order to heat the hall, a barrel half-filled with kerosene was lit, a fairly common practice at the time. During a performance, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. The hall burst into flames, which triggered an evacuation. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside the burning building. He entered the blaze to retrieve his beloved guitar, a Gibson hollow electric. Two people died in the fire. The next day, King learned that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. King named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every one he owned since that near-fatal experience, as a reminder never again to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women. King meanwhile toured the entire “Chitlin’ circuit” and 1956 became a record-breaking year, with 342 concerts booked. The same year he founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. There, among other projects, he produced artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury.In the 1950s, B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music, amassing an impressive list of hits including “3 O’Clock Blues”, “You Know I Love You,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “Please Love Me,” “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “You Upset Me Baby,” “Every Day I Have the Blues”, “Sneakin’ Around,” “Ten Long Years,” “Bad Luck,” “Sweet Little Angel”, “On My Word of Honor,” and “Please Accept My Love.”

King was extremely busy during this period and made 342 appearances and 3 recording sessions in 1956 alone. In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records, which was later absorbed into MCA Records, and this hence into his current label, Geffen Records. In November 1964, King recorded the Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.King won a Grammy Award for a tune called “The Thrill Is Gone”; his version became a hit on both the pop and R&B charts, It also gained the number 183 spot in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. He gained further visibility among rock audiences as an opening act on The Rolling Stones’ 1969 American Tour. King’s mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like “To Know You is to Love You” and “I Like to Live the Love”.King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2004 he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists “in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music.”[19]B.B. King in concert in France 1989From the 1980s onward he has continued to maintain a highly visible and active career, appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year. In 1988, King reached a new generation of fans with the single “When Love Comes to Town”, a collaborative effort between King and the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. Also that year King played for the 1988 Republican National Convention at the behest of the notorious Republican operative Lee Atwater. King has remained friendly with the Bush Family ever since and in 1990 was awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts by George H.W. Bushand the Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2008. In 2000, King teamed up with guitaristEric Clapton to record Riding With the King. In 1998, King appeared in The Blues Brothers 2000, playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley.

On March 29, 2006, King played at Hallam Arena in Sheffield, England supported by Northern Irish guitarist Gary Moore, with whom King had previously toured and recorded, and on June 28, 2009 King returned to Wembley arena with British blues icon John Mayall. In July King went back to Europe, playing twice at the Zürich at the Blues at Sunset and the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival where he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Lella James, Andre Beeka, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke. In November and December, King played six times in Brazil. .”In June 2006, King was present at a memorial of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected. The same month, a groundbreaking was held for a new museum, dedicated to King. in Indianola, Mississippi. The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened on September 13, 2008. In late October 2006, he recorded a concert CD and DVD entitled B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis. which was his first live performance recording in 14 years.On July 28, 2007, King played at Eric Clapton’s second Crossroads Guitar Festival with 20 other guitarists to raise money for the Crossroads Centre for addictive disorders. Performing in Chicago, he played “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss”, “Rock Me Baby” and “Thrill is Gone” ( with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan and Hubert Sumlin. Also in 2007, King accepted an invitation to contribute to Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard Records). With Ivan Neville’s DumpstaPhunk, King contributed his version of the title song, “Goin’ Home”.

In 2007 King performed “One Shoe Blues” on the Sandra Boynton children’s album Blue Moo, In June 2008, King played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee; he was also the final performer at the 25th annual Chicago Blues Festival on June 8, 2008, and at the Monterey Blues Festival, following Taj Mahal. King was also inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame alongside Liza Minnelli and Sir James Galway.In July 2008, Sirius XM Radio’s Bluesville channel was renamed B.B. King’s Bluesville. On December 3, King was the closing act at the 51st Grammy Nomination Concert, . On December 30, 2008, King played at The Kennedy Center Honors Awards Show; his performance was in honor of actor Morgan Freeman.European Tour 2009, Vienna, July 2009In Summer 2009, King started a European Tour with concerts in France, Germany, Belgium, Finland and Denmark.In March 2010, King contributed to Cyndi Lauper’s album Memphis Blues, which was released on June 22, 2010.King performed at the Mawazine festival in Rabat, Morocco, on May 27, 2010. On June 25, 2011 King played the pyramid stage at The Glastonbury Music Festival. On the June 28 he opened his new European tour at The Royal Albert Hall, London, supported byDerek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Ronnie Wood, Mick Hucknall and Slash.Barack Obama and B.B. King singing “Sweet Home Chicago” on February 21, 2012On February 21, 2012, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama hosted, “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues”, a celebration of blues music held in the East Room of the White House and B.B. King was among the performers. Later on that night, President Obama, encouraged by Buddy Guy and B.B. King, sang part of “Sweet Home Chicago”. On March 22, 2012, King played a concert at the Chicago House of Blues, where Benson made a guest appearance and both King & Benson held a jammin’ session for over 20 minutes, it was also the celebration of Benson’s birthday.King performed on the debut album of rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T., who also hails from Mississippi.On July 5, 2012, King performed a concert at the Byblos Festival, Lebanon.

Over a period of 64 years, King has played in excess of 15,000 performances. A feature documentary about B.B. King narrated by Morgan Freeman, awas released on October 15, 2012. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King). King is also known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career appearing at 250-300 concerts per year until his seventies. In 1956 it was noted that he appeared at 342 shows. Rolling Stone ranked King number 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (previously ranked number 3 in the 2003 edition of the same list) and was ranked No. 17 in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time” and is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”.

Over the years, King has developed one of the world’s most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of rock guitarists’ vocabulary. His economy and phrasing has been a model for thousands of players, from Eric Clapton and George Harrison to Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. King has mixed blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound.

Liberace

liberaceBest Known for his extravagant stage shows and flamboyant costumes, The late, great American Pianist Liberace was born 16th May in 1919. In a career that spanned four decades of concerts, recordings, motion pictures, television and endorsements, Liberace became world-renowned. During the 1950s–1970s he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world and embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off the stage. Liberace was born in West Allis, Wisconsin, a Milwaukee suburb, his father was a musician who played the French horn in bands and movie theaters and encouraged music in the family. Liberace began playing the piano at four and his father took his children to concerts to further expose them to music, Liberace’s prodigious talent was soon spotted. He memorized difficult pieces by age seven and studied the technique of the famous Polish pianist and later family friend Ignacy Paderewski who he met backstage at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. He dreamed of following in Ignacy’s footstep, which inspired him to practice with even greater fervor.Liberace focused fiercely on his piano playing and blossomed under the instruction of music teacher Florence Kelly who guided his musical development for ten years. He gained experience playing popular music in theaters, on local radio, for dancing classes, for clubs, and for weddings. He played jazz with a school group called the “Mixers” in 1934. Liberace also performed in cabarets and strip clubs, and even though his parents did not approve, he was earning a tidy living during hard times. For a while he adopted the stage name “Walter Busterkeys” and also showed an interest in draftsmanship, design, and painting, and he became a fastidious dresser and follower of fashion and was showing a knack of turning his eccentricities into attention-getting virtuesIn a formal classical music competition in 1937, Liberace was praised for his “flair and showmanship”.

At the end of a traditional classical concert in La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1939, Liberace played his first requested encore, “Three Little Fishes”, in the style of several different classical composers. The 20-year-old played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra , performing Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, for which he received strong reviews. He also toured in the Midwest. Between 1942 and 1944, Liberace moved away from straight classical performance and reinvented his act and started featuring “pop with a bit of classics” or as he also called it “classical music with the boring parts left out.”by the mid- and late 1940s, he was performing in night clubs in major cities around the United States, largely abandoning the classical concertgoer. He changed from classical pianist to showman, unpredictably and whimsically mixing serious with light fare.In 1944, he made his first appearances in Las Vegas, which later became his principal performance venue. He was playing at the best clubs, finally appearing at the celebrated Persian Room in 1945. During this time, Liberace worked tirelessly to refine his act. He added the candelabrum as a signature prop and adopted “Liberace” as his stage name.

He dressed in white tie and tails to be better seen in large halls. Besides clubs and occasional work as an accompanist and rehearsal pianist, Liberace also played for private parties. By 1947, he was billing himself as “Liberace—the most amazing piano virtuoso of the present day.” he also bought a rare, over-sized, gold-leafed Blüthner Grand, which he hyped up in his press kit as a “priceless piano”. He also performed with an array of other extravagant, custom-decorated pianos, some encrusted with sequins and mirrors.Liberace also created a very successful publicity machine which helped rocket him to stardom.Despite his success in the supper-club circuit, his ambition was to reach larger audiences as a headliner and a television, movie, and recording star. Liberace began to expand his act and made it more extravagant, with more costumes and a larger supporting cast. His large-scale Las Vegas act became his hallmark, expanding his fan base dramatically, and he became very wealthy in the process.

Liberace moved onto television and had guest appearances on The Kate Smith Show & Cavalcade of Stars, However he soon wanted his own show, and His first show on local television in Los Angeles was a smash hit, earning the highest ratings of any local show. The fifteen-minute network television program, The Liberace Show, began on July 1, 1952. Liberace learned early on to add “schmaltz” to his television show and to cater to the tastes of the mass audience by joking and chatting to the camera, as if performing in the viewer’s own living room. He also used dramatic lighting, split images, costume changes, and exaggerated hand movements to create visual interest. His television performances also featured enthusiasm and humor and his musical selections were broad, including classics, show tunes, film melodies, Latin rhythms, ethnic songs, and boogie-woogie.In 1956, Liberace had his first international engagement, in Havana. which He followed up with a European tour later that year. In 1960, Liberace performed at the London Palladium with Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr at the Royal Variety Show. In 1964 Liberace returned to Las Vegas, and, upping the glamour and glitz, he took on the sobriquet “Mr. Showmanship”.

The costumes became more exotic (ostrich feathers, mink, capes and huge rings), entrances and exits more elaborate (chauffeured onstage in a Rolls-Royce or dropped in on a wire like Peter Pan), choreography more complex (involving chorus girls, cars, and animals), and novelty acts.Liberace’s energy and commercial ambitions took him in many directions. He owned an antiques store in Beverly Hills, California and a restaurant in Las Vegas for many years and even published cookbooks, In addition, he had a line of men’s clothing, a motel chain (Liberace Chateau Inns), a shopping mall, and other enterprises. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Liberace’s live shows were major box office attractions in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Hilton and Lake Tahoe. He maintained homes in both places. Always kind to animals and children, Liberace incorporated them into his shows and helped talented youth through his Liberace Foundation, whose works still continue.Liberace’s final stage performance was at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on November 2, 1986. His final television appearance was on Christmas Day that same year. He died at the age of 67 on February 4, 1987 , from “Cytomegalic Virus having been in ill health since 1985 with emphysema from his daily smoking off-stage, as well as heart and liver troubles. Liberace’s body is entombed in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Krist Novoselic

Best known for being the bassist and co-founder of the grunge band Nirvana, American rock musician Krist Anthony Novoselic was born May 16, 1965. Novoselic was interested in bands such as Led Zeppelin, Devo, Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Aerosmith. He also enjoyed rock bands like Zabranjeno Pusenje, Prljavo Kazaliste and Azra. While in Yugoslavia, he picked up an interest in punk rock, and discovered bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. He has cited Paul McCartney, Geezer Butler, John Entwistle, and Gene Simmons as the fundamental influences of his bass playing. Sometime later, Novoselic’s brother Robert introduced him to his friend Kurt Cobain, who had noticed loud music coming from upstairs. Robert told Cobain that it was his older brother, who listened to punk rock. Cobain eventually befriended the elder Novoselic, as the pair ended up sharing similar musical tastes, including a fondness for local band The Melvins. The two had several mutual friends and began hanging out shortly thereafter. At one point, Cobain gave Novoselic a demo tape of his former band Fecal Matter, and asked him to form a band together. After several months, Novoselic finally listened to the tape, liked it, and agreed to start a band with Cobain.ometime later, Novoselic’s brother Robert introduced him to his friend Kurt Cobain, who had noticed loud music coming from upstairs. Robert told Cobain that it was his older brother, who listened to punk rock. Cobain eventually befriended the elder Novoselic, as the pair ended up sharing similar musical tastes, including a fondness for local band The Melvins. The two had several mutual friends and began hanging out shortly thereafter. At one point, Cobain gave Novoselic a demo tape of his former band Fecal Matter, and asked him to form a band together. After several months, Novoselic finally listened to the tape, liked it, and agreed to start a band with Cobain.

Cobain and Novoselic’s first band lasted barely a few weeks before it disbanded, leaving the pair to move on. However, the duo eventually discovered that the Melvins could pull $80 a night for one show. Inspired, Cobain and Novoselic started a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band, in which Cobain played drums and Novoselic sang and played guitar. That band was short-lived as well. Some months later, Cobain and Novoselic met drummer Aaron Burckhard. While the new band never used the name, it was the first incarnation of Nirvana.Burckhard lasted only a few months and Melvins drummer Dale Crover filled in until Novoselic and Cobain met Chad Channing. The trio recorded their debut album Bleach, released in 1989. Channing left the band in 1990 and was briefly replaced by Crover and Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters.Later in 1990, Melvins singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne encouraged Novoselic and Cobain to check out a punk band called Scream. The pair were impressed by their drummer, Dave Grohl. A few weeks later, Scream disbanded, and Grohl placed a call to Osborne for advice. Osborne gave him Novoselic’s phone number, and Novoselic invited Grohl up to Seattle (from San Francisco, where Scream broke up). Grohl passed the audition and joined Nirvana. A few months later, in the spring of 1991, the band recorded their major label debut, Nevermind, which launched the band as a worldwide phenomenon with their hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.Nirvana ended abruptly in April 1994 following Cobain’s death. For most of the rest of that year, Novoselic retreated from the spotlight. Novoselic and Cobain had been virtually inseparable for almost a decade, and the loss of his close friend was especially hard on him. One of few public appearances came that September at the MTV Video Music Awards, where the video for Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” was awarded for Best Alternative Video. Novoselic took the opportunity to pay tribute to his bandmate and best friend.

The following year, Novoselic continued to dabble in musical endeavors. He was offered the position of playing bass in a new band, the Foo Fighters, with friend and former bandmate Dave Grohl but both decided against it, because they believed people would think of Foo Fighters as a new incarnation of Nirvana. Novoselic instead formed the band Sweet 75 in 1995, releasing a single self-titled album in 1997. In 2002 he performed uncredited background vocals on The Foo Fighters song “Walking a Line”, written as a tribute to Cobain, during the One by One album sessions. The track is included on the One by One bonus DVD, as well as being a bonus track to the album.In 1998, Novoselic directed his first movie, L7: The Beauty Process, a pseudo-documentary that utilizes concert footage taped in 1997 in three American cities. In 1999, he joined Jello Biafraand former Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil in the No WTO Combo. He then joined former Meat Puppets front man Curt Kirkwood and former Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh to form Eyes Adrift, which disbanded in 2003. This band was significant as it was the first official release in his career where he sang lead vocals. He also took a highly active role in the song writing process, co-writing several songs with Kirkwood.Following the end of Eyes Adrift, Novoselic announced, that he was quitting the music business, noting that he disliked the process of building up publicity for new records. However, in recent years, Novoselic has occasionally worked on music for a possible solo album, and in November 2006, it was announced, that Novoselic would join Flipper, replacing Bruno DeSmartas on bass, for a tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. He was a full-time member of the band and had been working on their new album. In September 22, 2008, because of responsibilities at home, Novoselic announced his departure from the band. As a result, the band canceled the remainder of the tour. Rachel Thoele then replaced Novoselic. In 2009, he played a newspaper vendor in the movie World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams. In October 2010, Dave Grohl, formerNirvana band mate of Novoselic, announced live on BBC radio, that Novoselic will be joining the Foo Fighters on their next album as a bassist and accordionist which was released in 2011: Wasting Light. Novoselic also played bass on children’s music artist Caspar Babypants’ (a.k.a. Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America’s) 2010 album This Is Fun!, for a cover of the Nirvana song “Sliver”.

Novoselic’s first experience with the Foo Fighters was participating in the encore of their show on August 29, 1997 at Memorial Stadiumas part of the Bumbershoot festival, where he played bass for the band’s covers of “Purple Rain” and “Communication Breakdown”. In January 2002 he performed backing vocals for a non-album track titled “Walking a Line”, later released on a special edition of the band’s album One by One. Later, during the encore of the Foo Fighters’ secret show at Paladino’s in Tarzana, California on December 22, 2010, the band, with Grohl on drums was joined onstage by Novoselic and the band’s live guitarist Pat Smear for a version of Nirvana’s “Marigold” a 1992 Grohl original, which was also a B-side on Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box”, the first single from In Utero.Novoselic also recorded bass and accordion on the song “I Should Have Known”, appearing on the Foo Fighters’ 7th studio album called Wasting Light, released on April 12, 2011