King Holds Court in Columbia

Friday, November 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:55 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008


Blues legend B.B. King plays to a sold-out crowd Wednesday evening.

B.B. King once said, “I think there’s a place for playing the guitar. There’s a place for singing the blues.” On Wednesday evening, that place was Columbia’s Jesse Auditorium.

In 1948, a young man by the name of Riley B. King was invited to play on blues singer Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program in Memphis, Tennessee. “Blues Boy” King, as he came to be known, soon began recording records with Sam Phillips, who would later go on to found Sun Records and introduce America to Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Fifty-eight years, 18 Grammys and countless live performances later he slowly walked out to take a spotlit seat on the stage of Jesse Auditorium.


"Lucille," perhaps the most famous guitar in the world, sits on a stand in Columbia's Jesse Auditorium before B.B. King's performance.

Shouldering his iconic black maplewood Gibson guitar, Lucille, the King of Blues began to fill the sold-out auditorium with the same sounds that have graced Memphis street corners, smokey Chicago blues clubs and major European theatres over the last six decades.

Though he recently turned 80 years old, B.B. King has kept up his renowned frenetic touring schedule - from Columbia he heads to Sao Paulo, Brazil - that has given audiences all over the world the chance to see for themselves a musical legend and one of the last living links to a golden age of music. If King’s vibrancy and talent Wednesday night were any indication, he’s going to ensure that a small piece of that era will live on for years to come.


The King of Blues, B.B. King, gestures to his wind instruments during the band's performance on Wednesday evening.

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