Hey dude thanks for that post. I'm big into music and BB always fascinated me. He fascinated me in the way I knew nothing about him personally and never saw him do interviews. I'm also fascinated by race relations in this country and knowing BB was that age where he must have witnessed a lot I always wondered to myself was he an angry bitter man who didn't care for most folks or was he a jolly friendly guy who had appreciation for other people people and if he was in a happy place in this world.Sad. And i am seeing all these heros of mine from my youth pass on and i feel sooooo much older with every one. I remember that botched Garo play like it was yesterday. A true RIPfor Garo and heartfelt Prayers for his family.
I knew BB King personally. I was an apprentice Luthier as a young man in las vegas. Our shop, mainly the owner was one if two luthiers in the world who he let work on "lucille", his main Gibson guitar he played on almost every recording he ever did.
My second day on the job, we open up and about 5 minutes in, here comes BB walking through the door!! I am ready to blurt out "excuse me, are you BB King" when i hear Mike, the owner say hey BB, back from the road? My young guitar mind was blown. I hung on every word as i finished up my opening chores. Lucille was having a loose fret problem and after BB and mike chatted a bit, I hear Mike call me over and i walk up and he says "this is BB King, the blues player" . I introduced myself and BB put out his mit and shook my hand. For those who dont know, BB is a Major guitar legend and massive contributor to the blues. He was of the first lineage of the original mississippi delta blues men. Hall of every music and guitar Fame in the world.
So, this is my first meeting (of many more to come) with BB. He was a truly nice gentleman. Concidering everything that man experianced over his years, its a true testament to humanity. Mike closes the case and turns and hands it to me and says, tag it and the numbers in the roller (what we calledthe rolo-dex). That was code for me when a special guitar was brought in or some vip of mikes i was to not touch it outside of tag and phone number. Right as i am turning to go, i look at BB and he drops his chin and raises his eye brows and says, young man, do you know what you your holding on too? And i replied i absolutely did, i knew all the history, how she was named, where he found lucille...... . I feel mikes hand on my back and a pat and he was shooing me off before i could recite BB's life to him. Mike looked at BB and said he would be taking care of her as usual. BB smiled and said, "i know you will" and off he went. I usually tore down the guitars that were having major work, made notes, gave a quick towel cleaning and then off to mike. I did set ups, wiring, and prep for paint, sanding, strings. So, i ask mike if i am doing the usual and he cold stares me and says, your kidding, right? However, i was allowed final cleaning and these hands got to touch one of the top 3 most famous guitars in the world!!
Few months later, i take a week night part time gig at Tower Records (rip) after i was finished at the shop. Guitar parts and the never ending motorcycle parts and various party favors needed my attention and so did my wallett. So one night, i see BB walk in!! He spends a good 2 hours or so browsing records. Every10 minutes minutes or so, BB would come to the front with a huge load of vinyl and ask if he could leave them until he was ready to check out. BB was a MAJOR record junky, and this was long before cd's and about every 3-4 months he would appear and buy 70-200 or so albums. So, when he came up to check out that first time with me in the record store, i asked if he remembered me from the guitar shop. He said yeah!! I thought that was you, not many have that hair! At that time, i could pony tail my hair and tuck it into the back of my belt. He had a routine after every time record shopping, there was a sandwich shop up front in the mini mall lot and he said sometime if you like and can get out come and join me for a sandwich(most of us ate our meal either there or at carl's jr).
4 or 5 times over the next 2 years i got to sit with him and talk music, guitars and HISTORY!! I got to hear stories from one of the most revered musicians in the world and life in the delta cotton fields, the klan, marching with Dr. King (he was the first i had heard from someone saying what a snake and back stabber jesse jackson was) the beatings he and band mates took many times from club owners who wouldnt pay after gigs and REAL racist mobs not happy they were playing in their town and he chuckled (stirring up their women!!)l.
When you speak with an individual who was there, when REAL DEAL RACIST'S were present and ran a great deal of the country, it effects you. Its one thing to read about those times or to hear that idiot Sharpton talk all about how its even worse for blacks now or others like BB who survived and spoke the truth on those times. But to sit across from a person who was there and experienced it all and look into their eyes while they relive it to you is profound.
And as i mentioned earlier, BB was a true southern gentleman. A bright man who was cautios and laid back, but when he let you in, he was a historian and incredible story teller and well versed on subjects you would never think he would be. A man who showed love and forgivness and tolerance who had every real reason not to.
I saw BB coming out of Terrible Herbst car wash in vegas in 1984. He was just leaving, i was just comming in. I yelled Hey BB across the lot and asked what was up. He said he was heading out to memphis in a few days for a small southern states blues review tour. I said have fun and a good trip!! He said, WOULDNT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY!!
Thats the last time i saw or spoke to BB. The thing i regret the most is i never had a chance to sit and play music with him. Not one note on a guitar between us. We didnt call each other or go to our homes but would meet by accident somwhere in vegas or lunch at the sandwich shop by Tower Records and guitars were not in hand.
Those days in las vegas were incredible times for musicians. We were the premiere repair shop in vegas and national acts in town for a concert would bring things in for repair as well as all the old strip legends and country guys like Glenn Campbell and Roy Clark lived there off and on and i can tell you some amazing, mind blowing stories about things i saw first hand at parties with them, Tanya Tucker, Johny Paycheck, etc..... . Those guys partied harder than Motley Crew ever dreamed about doing!!
Paychek, was a Dolphins fan!! He was quite the character but a real mouth when drunk. He told me a story about partying in Atlanta with Zonk and Kuchenberg and Kick. I wont relay it in public for the respect of those guys and to be honest? Johny wasnt real reliable as far as stories.
Anyhow, its a finz forum and i wish i could go on, but the poster mentioned BB and since his passing i have been in a very somber mood going over the past and how quick life goes (you young bucks take note). If any of you music heads/guitar freaks out there are interested i will be happy to share more in a proper forum. NO disapointments!!
RIP Mr. King.