We’re admittedly late to the party on this one, but the story is so good that we have to share it.
Back in April, when B.B. King was suffering health issues from diabetes, a young fan named Toby Lee of Blaxham, Oxfordshire, posted a rendition of “The Thrill Is Gone” as a get-well message to King. Wearing a tiger onesie and playing a goldtop Les Paul, the 10-year-old turned in a heartfelt and soulful performance.
It soon went viral, thanks to Joe Bonamassa and Gibson Guitar, both of whom shared the video. Even Jason Becker joined in with a post on Toby’s YouTube page for the video. To date, the video has received more than 5.3 million views on Facebook.
“I put up a tribute for B.B. King because at that moment he was my favorite guitarist,” Toby explained. “Joe Bonamassa helped. He’s also one of my favorite guitarists and he’s really, really good, and I nearly fell down the stairs because I was so shocked [that he shared it].”
As Bonamassa told his fans when he posted the video, “This is what it is all about. My favorite blues song being played by one of the future superstars of the blues.”
Toby began playing at age four. “His grandma bought him a ukulele when he was four, and he played it until all the strings broke,” his father told the BBC. “He’s a funny guy with a great sense of humor, way beyond his years.”
Since his video for King took off, Toby has had sponsorship offers and received a personal message from Rita King Washington, one of B.B. King’s daughters. On April 22, Washington wrote on Toby’s Facebook page, “Please keep my father in your prayers he is regaining his strength slow, but steady. I love you all.”
King died May 14, age 89.
Enjoy this wonderful tribute from the future of blues guitar. And check out Toby’s other videos on his Toby Lee—Guitar Hero! YouTube page and his Facebook page. He clearly has a thing for onesies, and every great performer needs a signature look.