Friday, September 29, 2006

Meeting B.B. King

One of the first records I ever owned was an old shellac ’78 record by B.B. King on RPM records. On one side was “Did You Ever Love A Woman” and was backed with “Let’s Do The Boogie.” I played that record over and over again and I’m telling you, I was only about 12 or maybe 13 years old.

Flash forward in time about 30 years. I am publishing a music magazine in my hometown of Austin, Texas. B.B. King and band are heading into town and they are playing at the Austin Music Hall. Of course, I wrangle myself some tickets and also place a call to Mr. King’s management to see if I can get an interview (a long shot I thought). They didn’t say “no” and they didn’t say “yes” either. It was kind of like, “if Mr. King has any time before or after the show for an interview we’ll let you know.” I didn’t hold a lot of hope but still, the possibility was pretty exciting.

The show was great (of course) and B.B. King gave his usual professional and blistering performance. I waited for what seemed like hours after the show for the official word. Then it came. “Mr. King will see you now.” I’ll never forget those words as long as I live. I might as well been invited in to meet royalty – which I was. Blues royalty.

I stepped up on to the first step of his private bus and made my way in. You know that feeling like when you feel like you’re outside of your body watching yourself do something? That’s the feeling I had. I walked down the white carpeting in the aisle and watched as the little figure sitting on the couch in his bedroom in the back of the bus got bigger and bigger. What do you say to someone you’ve never met, but have admired since you were a teenager?

B.B. was gentle, gracious and a perfect gentleman. Everything he appears to be on stage and in realty, is. He signed a few autographs for me. Listened patiently as I told him my story about the old ’78 record I had as a kid, and answered my interview questions.

They say that you never want to meet your childhood heroes, because they can’t measure up to whatever you have built up in your mind. Well, I’m happy to say that I’m so glad that I met B.B. King. He turned out to be everything that I had thought and hoped he would be.


Fitzgerald said...

What a great story. B.B. is the best.

Randy Hill said...

Yeah he is. The man has some kind of stamina. He's had a full life.