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No. 8, July 2000
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Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

B.B. King & Eric Clapton
biography, albums, grammy awards, CD Riding With The King

The blues legend B.B. King has released two very different albums. Makin' Love Is Good For You is unfortunately annoying and to simplistic, only to recommend to hard core fans. On another planet is Riding With The King, an uncompromising blues and (swamp) rock album, recorded together with another guitarist and singer legend, Eric Clapton. The no-nonsense, straightforward singing performance of the two often reminds me of Joe Cocker. Riding With The King goes directly to the heart and soul, a refreshing and sensational album, the best in the popular music genre since the release of Santana's Supernatural. Is this the return of the grand old men (B.B. King is over 74)? Among the twelve titles performed on Riding With The King, there is not a single one I do not like.
 
B.B. King and Eric Clapton first worked together in 1967 at Manhattan's Café Au Go Go, when Clapton (22) was a member of Cream. Since then, they have not lost contact. On Riding With The King, they perform old and new songs by B.B. King, such as Ten Long Years (1955), the famous Three O'Clock Blues (1951), Days of Old and When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer. They are complemented by songs from Clapton's repertoire such as the standard Key To The Highway (written by William Broonzy/Charles Seger) and Worried Life Blues (by Maceo Merriweather). Eric Clapton and B.B. King also render their versions of Hold On I'm Coming (written by Isaac Hayes/David Porter, a soul hit for Sam & Dave) and, of course, John Hiatt's Riding With The King. King and Clapton even reach back to standards like Come Rain Or Come Shine (by Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen) from 1946.
 
Riley B. King, better known as B.B. King, was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bene, in the Mississippi delta, in 1925. He used to play on street corners in several towns to make money as a teenager. In 1947, he took his guitar and hitchhiked north to Memphis, Tennessee, to begin his musical career. Memphis was an important city for musicians of the South and supported a large, competitive black musical community. B.B. King stayed with his cousin Bukka White, a renowned rural blues performer who became his blues teacher. In 1948, King had his first break when he performed on the radio. This led to
steady performance engagements in Memphis and later to a ten minute spot on a black staffed and managed radio station, which became so popular that it was increased in length and became the Sepia Swing Club. King soon needed a catchy radio name: Beale Street Blues Boy was shortened to Blues Boy King and eventually became B.B. King. For sheet music by B. B King click here.
 
In the 1950s, B.B. King recorded two R&B #1 hits: Three O'Clock Blues (1951) and You Don't Know Me (1952). Soon after his number one hit Three O'Clock Blues, B.B. King began touring nationally, performing an average of 275 concerts a year. Since then, he shines on the blues sky. Among the guitarists who influenced him is T-Bone Walker.
 
B.B. Kings has recorded over fifty albums, Live At The Regal (1965) is one of the highlight. Among the songs performed is Help the Poor by Charles Singleton, which one can find in a new version on Riding With The King. In 1970, B.B. King's The Thrill Is Gone went to #15 on the pop charts, a mainstream record by the artist which will easily surpassed by Riding With The King. Together with his guitar Lucille, for which he is said to have once risked his life, B.B. King has won nine Grammies and several Down Beat Polls. The list of his Grammy Awards:
- Best R &B Vocal Performance, Male, 1970, for The Thrill Is Gone 
- Best Ethnic or Traditional recording, 1981, for There Must Be A Better World Somewhere
- Best Traditional Blues Recording, 1983, for Blues 'N Jazz
- Best Traditional Blues Recording, 1985, My Guitar Sings the Blues (from the album Six Silver Springs)
- Best Traditional Blues Recording, 1990, Live at San Quentin
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Best Traditional Blues Recording, 1991, Live at the Apollo
- Best Traditional Blues Recording, 1993, Blues Summit
- Best Rock Instrumental Performance, 1996, SRV Shuffle (with Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Art Neville), from A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Best Traditional Blues Album, 1999, Blues On The Bayou
 

Instructional DVD title featuring blues guitarist B.B. King: B.B. King Blues Master.
 
Eric Clapton was born in Ripley (Surrey, England) in 1945. His parents divorced when his was two. He grew up with his grandparents. They bought him a guitar in 1960. Eric imitated Chuck Berry and Bo Didley and played in a school-band. Clapton wanted to become a designer for glass painting and studied at the Kingston College of Art. In March 1963, he founded, together with bassist Tom McGuinness, the band the Roosters. At that time, he was a blues purist. Later, the two switched to Casey Jones & The Engineers. Only four weeks later, Clapton received the offer to become part of the Yardbirds, replacing Top Topham. Time and place are to short to review Clapton's career in full length: he was later part of the Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith. His albums 461 Ocean Boulevard, Just One Night and Layla are classics. With his acoustic performance for MTV, he set the trend for the "unplugged" format. His album Unplugged was awarded six Grammies in 1993. These are just a few highlights in the life of a shy giant of the music business who left famous groups in order to escape the problems of superstardom. In his career, he has worked together with the Beatles, The Band, Joe Jocker, Phil Collins and many more. For sheet music by Eric Clapton click here.


Riding With The King 
B.B. King, Eric Clapton June 2000.
Get the CD from:
- Amazon.com 
- Amazon.co.uk
- Amazon.de
- Amazon.fr
 
 

Biography and CDs
Makin' Love Is Good for You 
B.B King, May 2000.
Get the CD from:
- Amazon.com
- Amazon.co.uk
-
Amazon.de
 
 

 
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 8, July 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.