Bonnie Raitt will join fellow musicians Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark, Jr. in paying tribute to the late B.B. King at the Grammy Awards on February 15. King died on May 14 in Las Vegas at the age of 89.
— The GRAMMYs (@TheGRAMMYs) February 4, 2016
In an emotional remembrance in Rolling Stone magazine, Bonnie Raitt shared her thoughts about the blues legend, as well as the influence he had on her music career, just days after his passing.
“B.B. was a god from the first time we all heard him. You listen to those early recordings with that cry in his voice, even as a young man. I still have the 45 of “Rock Me Baby” that I wore out playing when I was a teenager. I used to sit there and play it and move the needle back to the beginning and play it over and over. It’s so sexy and the groove is hellacious. A lot of people have covered that song, but that’s my favorite version,” she said. “Every great blues guitarist has his own style. But with B.B., it was about his vibrato, his phrasing and the licks he chose–and his restraint. It was all about what he played and what he didn’t play. He was sweet and eloquent in his playing, but when he turned it on, he could be fierce.”
“My manager worked with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, and B.B. was Buddy’s hero, so I got to go backstage and see B.B. when he was in and out of blues festivals,” Bonnie Raitt added. “He was always very complimentary about my playing. He was always so gentle and humble and appreciative and he got a big kick out of the fact that all us young white kids got him. We became friends and later he would confide in me about his personal life and how he loved the ladies. To watch him backstage flirting with beautiful women was a delight. He loved his fans, but he enjoyed the company of kind and appreciative women. I always wished he’d had a steadfast and steady partner, but he was on the road so much. He could have retired years ago and cut his schedule back, but he told me he stayed on the road to be able to support his band and crew. He had a big band. I always wondered how he could afford it. He just worked all the time.”
“He was so classy and so bold at the same time. He was an old-school Southern gentleman, but his playing was razor-sharp. I learned so much about dynamics from him,” she concluded.
It’s obvious from Bonnie Raitt’s admiration of B.B. King that paying tribute to him at next week’s Grammy Awards is quite an honor.
Raitt’s connection to King continues on another level following his death, too. Both will be inducted into the ACL (Austin City Limits) Hall of Fame in October.
Bonnie Raitt, BB King to be inducted into the ACL Hall of Fame. https://t.co/niri3QBvoB
— KGON (@kgon) January 29, 2016
Bonnie Raitt, as well as Gary Clark, Jr., are former Grammy winners. Chris Stapleton was nominated for four Grammy Awards this year.
In addition to the tribute for B.B. King, Lady Gaga will pay tribute to the late David Bowie.