Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Slash and Others Share Tributes to B.B. King

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Guitarists took to social media to share their memories of B.B. King in the days following the blues guitarist’s death on May 14.

Today, fans have a chance to pay their final respects to King at a public viewing. We thought it was a good time to gather up a sampling of the comments and tributes from Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Slash, Billy Gibbons, Keith Richards, and many other guitarists and musicians who knew, played with and were inspired by his life and work.

Buddy Guy (via Facebook)

Guy also posted this photo of him with B.B. King.

Eric Clapton (via Facebook video)

“I just want to express my sadness and to say thank you to my dear friend B.B. King. I wanted to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years and for the friendship that we enjoyed. There’s not a lot left to say because his music is almost a thing of the past now, and there are not many left to play it in the pure way that B.B. did. He was a beacon for all of us who love this kind of music, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. If you’re not familiar with his work, then I would encourage you to go out and find an album called B.B. King: Live at the Regal, which is where it all really started for me as a young player.”

Billy Gibbons (via an exclusive to Rolling Stone).

The Z.Z. Top guitarist said “It’s difficult to fathom a world without B.B. King,” and noted that King has “been with me literally since the dawn of my musical consciousness.” Gibbons and his father, a musician, met King at a Houston recording studio. “We met B.B. King at ACA Studios when I was, maybe, 7. He made a huge impression on me and that encounter continues to resonate.”

Brad Paisley (via Twitter)

Paisley followed it up by tweeting a pair of photos of him with King.

Slash (via Facebook)

Tom Morello (via Twitter)

Keith Richards (via Twitter interview with fans)
“B.B. was a great guy, you know? He was one of the true gentlemen, and I shall miss him a lot. I always had a great time with him when our paths crossed. Well, what can you say now? At least we have his records ... and farewell, B.B

Mick Jagger (via Twitter interview with fans)

"I was just looking at a picture of me and B.B. backstage at Madison Square Garden (in 1969). He played with us at a lot of gigs on that tour. We last played with him in a blues concert at the White House. It's sad. He had such a huge, long career. It's sad that we won't be listening to him live anymore."

Joe Perry (via Facebook)

Lenny Kravitz (via Twitter)

Richie Sambora (via Twitter)

Joe Bonamassa (via GuitarPlayer Blog—click to read the entire entry)

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.

Steve Hunter (via GuitarPlayer Blog—click to read the entire entry)

In the fall of 1970, some fellow band mates and I drove the four hours to Chicago to see B.B. King at a wonderful dinner club called Mr. Kelly’s...

After the show, he was sort of hanging around in front of the stage, so I took that opportunity to talk to him. I told him I had been trying to learn how to play the blues by listening to and playing along with many of his records, but, no matter what I did, I didn’t sound like him. I asked him if it was because I’m white and I would just never get it. He laughed and said, “No man, that’s got nothin to do with it. Have you ever been treated bad by a girl?”

And I said, “Sure.”

He said, “Well that’s the Blues. Now you put that feeling into your fingers.”

A major light bulb went off, and suddenly I got it.

Then he said, “Learn from the records, but don’t try to copy. Take what you learn and make it your own, because that’s what will keep the blues alive.”