B. B. King – The Thrill is Gone

On-screen:  The THE THRILL IS GONE sets the stage for Los Angeles’ inner-city Watts burning to the plaintive blues of King’s guitar, Lucille.  Network news footage captured Los Angeles police apprehending some of the four thousand African-Americans arrested through six hot nights in the summer of 1965 and others of the thirty-four Blacks who lay dead among the torched and overturned cars of Watts. An act of LA police brutality after a motorist was stopped on suspicion of intoxication sparked the violent reaction against the white Los Angeles police department and white-owned storefronts. Skeletons of the burned out buildings of Watts serve as  dramatic images of the McCone Commission’s findings: that the Watts riots were symptoms of deeper issues for Blacks in America. In THE THRILL IS GONE, King intones, “…but you’ll be sorry someday.

Soundtrack Notes: B.B. King released THE THRILL IS GONE on the Bluesway album Completely Well in 1969. THE THRILL IS GONE appeared as a single in 1970, and he was awarded a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for THE THRILL IS GONE.

Context: The red skies over Watts-lit from a thousand fires-signaled the arrival of a new hour. The mass rage that erupted in the backwater slum of Los Angeles sent a clear message that, for the Black underclass: the thrill was gone. White mannequins lay smashed to smithereens in the rubble, as a different King – B.B. King – boasted “I’m free now baby, I’m free from your spell.” Black America woke up on August 5, 1965, looked around at the squalor into which it had been seduced, and burned it to the ground.

Excerpt from Wikipedia Page

King has been married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. Both marriages ended because of the heavy demands made on the marriage by King’s 250 performances a year. It is reported that he has fathered 15 children. He has lived with Type II diabetes for over twenty years and is a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products.

His favorite singer is Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography King speaks about how he was, and is, a “Sinatra nut” and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra’s classic album In the Wee Small Hours. King has credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who were not given the chance to play in “white dominated” venues; Sinatra got King into the main clubs in Las Vegas during the 1960s.

Each year during the first week in June, a B.B. King Homecoming Festival is held in Indianola, Mississippi. However, he does not attend the festival.

Over a period of 52 years, King has played in excess of 15,000 performances. He has made guest appearances on numerous popular television shows, including The Cosby Show, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, Married With Children and Sanford and Son.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Leave a Comment