B. B. King
The year of 2015 witnessed the passing of the most recognizable and influential of all the blues artists in my life, B. B. King. Born Reginald King in 1925, he burst onto the music scene in 1949 and spent his career introducing the blues and up and coming blues artists to audiences around the world. Considered one of the top 10 blues guitarists of all time, he and his beloved guitar “Lucille” toured relentlessly for 66 years performing over 15,000 live shows and recording over 40 studio albums.
His most famous recording, The Thrill is Gone, is considered a blues classic. But I have chosen a song for you that Buddy Guy and he performed that moves me every time I hear it….Stay Around a Little Longer.
Wendell Holmes & Popsy Dixon
The world will miss the gruff and gravely voice as well as the guitar and piano playing of Wendell Holmes (71). He was part of the Holmes Brothers trio featuring Wendell, his brother Sherman on bass, and “Popsy” Dixon (72) on drums. Popsy met the brothers in 1967 and they eventually formed the Holmes Brothers in 1979.
Featuring a mix of soul, the blues, and gospel style R&B, the Holmes Brothers released their first album in 1990 and went on to record 12 studio albums. Here is a song that is a regular part of my playlist, Run Myself Out of Town.
One of the defining songs of my generation, When A Man Loves A Woman, was recorded by Percy Sledge (74) in 1966. Though it was to be his only #1 hit, he went on to enjoy a fabulous career winning the 1996 Soul Blues Award for his album BLUE NIGHT. In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Even after all these years, this song still moves me like it did on the gym floor of junior high school dances way back in the day.
Ben E. King
A soul and R&B singer best remembered for songs with the Drifters 1958-1960 (There Goes My Baby, Save the Last Dance For Me, This Magic Moment) and solo performances of Spanish Harlem (1960) and Stand By Me (1961). Born Benjamin Earl Nelson in 1938, he changed his name to Ben E. King when he launched his solo career in late 196o. He had five #1 hits in his career and enjoyed a resurgence in 1986 with the release of the movie “Stand By Me” that featured his song which rose to #1 in the UK and #9 in the United States. Here is a recording of his first solo hit, Spanish Harlem.