Topics

Robert Johnson
B.B. King built a bridge to the blues for the world
B.B. King built a bridge to the blues for the world

The least important historical fact about B.B. King, who died in Las Vegas on Thursday, is the one most people know: that he played the blues on a guitar he'd named Lucille. But that ax and her tone, while melodic and often transcendent, are the least of King's contributions. In fact, Lucille's presence has nearly eclipsed her owner's striking influence on American music. Unspooling King's history during his rise in postwar Memphis through his breakout success in the late '60s is to illuminate crucial cultural moments: when Southern black sounds migrated from the country to the city, spread across America and over the Atlantic to Britain to help transform...

Loading