Not unexpected since he was taken ill a few weeks ago and announced he was in home hospice care. The end was close.
I never got to see him live, I had my chances, even here in NL a few years ago at the North Sea Jazz festival, I could have gone...but for some daft reason I put it off.
I wish I hadn't... Its hard to explain to people who don't know me, or who don't play guitar, but this man along with Peter Green inspired me so much when I first started to play guitar 35 years ago. I couldn't do the fast flashy stuff, but those 3 or 4 note licks from King and Green made me sit up and listen and I tried so hard to copy them, but never did.. Even now in my later phase of guitar playing frenzy, that wonderful tone is something I aspire to every time I shake a note.. I get close..but never there.
I shouldn't need to detail his career, or his eccentric naming of all his guitars as Lucille, his genre crossing style, his deep pure blues, his inability to sing and play at the same time, his reaching to white audiences, and his influence of the rock gods of the 60's and after... He was the greatest guitarist ever, who made 2 or 3 notes more meaningful than any shredders 100.. It was all down to tone and vibrato, it gave Lucille a voice no one could quite replicate.
I've never lost that love of hearing his vibrato. When, When Love To Comes town was first on the radio, I immediately recognised BB's playing and wondered what the hell was he doing playing with U2..his sound, his tone, his touch was unmistakable. He renewed his career with that one and became accessible to new generations, kicking off more tours... I still put off seeing him...next time I thought
I'm a fucking idiot for not taking the chances I had to go watch and enjoy... I won't make those kind of mistakes again.
Today though. I am sad, genuinely depressingly sad, that a great great guitar legend, the one who inspired all the others has gone.
I'm going to take my own Lucille down off the wall, give her a dust and play here along with a few BB backing tracks in his honour.
RIP Riley B King. You will most certainly be missed.