Manitoba

Winnipeg musicians remember B.B. King, 'the king of blues'

Winnipeg musicians are remembering B.B. King today, after he died late Thursday at his home in Las Vegas. King was 89.
Winnipeg musicians are remembering B.B. King today, after he died late Thursday at his home in Las Vegas. King was 89. 1:54

Winnipeg musicians are remembering B.B. King today, after he died late Thursday at his home in Las Vegas. King was 89.

"He was amazing, like Hendrix in a way, and a tour-de-force of blues and rock," said Randy Bachman of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. "I first played a show with B.B. in the mid-60s."
U.S. blues legend B.B. King is shown performing onstage during the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 2011. He died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas at age 89. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)

Bachman said King told him he "played pretty good for a white boy," but he needed to "make a few faces" to show he felt the notes and strings.

"To this day, there are many pictures of me playing my B.B. King string-bending notes, and my face looks like someone is stepping on my foot," said Bachman. "Every time I do that on stage, I think of him. A few years ago, for my birthday, I received a Lucille guitar signed by B.B., and it will be treasured forever."

King, "the king of blues," was a 15-time Grammy winner and performed well into his 80s.

The 'original crop'

"I was thinking, he's one of the last of the original crop that wrote the book that we all study from. It's quite a loss to the world but he left an amazing legacy behind that's for sure," said Winnipeg blues icon Big Dave McLean.

There are people who will try and discourage you in this business. Don't them do it.- B.B. King

McLean told CBC's Radio Noon that he put King on the list of greats alongside Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Howlin' Wolf.

King had such a distinct style, McLean said that he could always recognize his music after the first two bars.

"[The Thrill is Gone] was his signature tune, absolutely. It still gives me chills every time I hear him play it," McLean said Friday.

'It was heaven for us'

Musician Brent Parkin was touched by the legend, too. In the 80s, his band Hounddog got a call to open for King in a series of shows from Winnipeg to Calgary

"He was pretty much the most popular blues artist in the world and here we are getting to travel on the same bus with him and go on a tour," said Parkin. "I mean, it [was] heaven for us."

After every show, Parkin said King would come to the Hounddog dressing room to visit and tell stories.

He was kind, positive, and Parkin still remembers his last bit of advice.

"B.B. and I were getting a picture taken together and he's standing there with his arm kind of around me and he said, 'You know, there are people who will try and discourage you in this business.' He says, 'Don't let them do it.'"

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