For many of us the thought of not having B.B. King on this earth seemed surreal. A man larger than life who was a constant—something you can set your watch to. The sun will rise and fall, and B.B. King will play the blues.
Sadly, today, the sun rose, but the music was silent.
To say that the loss of B.B. King is devastating to the blues community is an understatement. He defined the blues. He was the blues. He brought blues to an audience that would never have found the blues if B.B. was not the conduit. Never again will there be another as good, gracious, or as kind as Mr. King.
When Mr. King came off the road last year, I couldn't believe—nor wanted to accept—that I would never hear his nephew Walter King introduce him again: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the King of the Blues, Mr B.B. King!"
That, combined with the fast shuffle and the horn stabs, as the man himself walked onstage was enough to convince this kid on May 24, 1990 that a life in the blues was for me. The excitement those words caused over the thousands of shows to the millions of people will never be matched or equaled.
Those shows that I saw—almost 50 in total over the past 25 years—changed my life.
Thank you, Mr. King, for the inspiration, the motivation, the support, your friendship, and, most importantly, the music which I love so dearly.
Rest in peace, my friend. Joe Bonamassa