Three of the countless things I will remember about B.B. King….
His 1958 album, Live at the Regal. Recorded in Chicago before an audience who, like him, had left Mississippi to seek a better life but certainly not forgotten their roots. One of the best live albums ever.
Seeing B.B. and Bobby Bland perform at a Bay Area ballroom that, of course, had no seats. The entire front half of the venue was taken up by older blacks who had brought their own chairs to sit on. Booker T and the MGs were the opening act.
In the last year of his life, B.B. King became the honorary head of an effort to build a national monument in the Mississippi Delta to honor those who picked cotton and made the world rich. King, who was born in a cabin on a cotton plantation outside Berclair, Mississippi in 1925, replaced the late Maya Angelou as the Honorary Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Cotton Pickers of America and the Sharecroppers Interpretive Center. The plan is for a twenty-five foot high monument to be erected on twenty acres of cotton land along Highway 61 in the Mississippi Delta.
Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. He can be reached at: Rockrap@aol.com