Music is music is music is music and this need for labels and the breaking down of music into specific genres with the obligatory genre “charts” to further create alienation between what once were simply music fans, plus the over-thinking on the part of some musicians I know to label themselves has always brought about a wry smile to my face mixed with a certain sadness.
When BB King passed away last week, Yes, though the Thrill Is Gone, “it” will always live on through this very special gentleman’s music and what he and his beloved guitar named “Lucille” created and recorded for so many decades.
What has emerged since that last note was played is this incredible outpouring of respect for a musician who was much more than a “Bluesman”.
When one thinks back and realises just how many different musicians BB King played with in his lifetime, and, unselfishly, gave so much of himself and his music to their music, which became our music, it makes the attempts of far- far- lesser musicians with an embarrassingly warped sense of their self-importance to try and be everything they’re not by falling in line with the other lemmings and creating a herd- or “scene and heard” mentality- by moving in packs and refusing to see the forest for the trees.
Again, music is music is music, inspiration and influences are closely entwined, and when BB King played with U2 when that band were still relevant showed music without boundaries. The Thrill wasn’t gone. It was there onstage for all to see, all to hear, and all to take away whatever they felt passionately about from that coming together of musicians from hugely different backgrounds and very different generations.
What brought them together, what made everyone from Clapton and Lenny Kravitz and Keith Richards and so many others form all these pockets of a mutual admiration society was their love for music.
Over the past few weeks, the passing of BB King has sparked off plenty of conversations, some good, some not so good with the worst being musical snobbery, and what can be termed pretentious “overnight purism”.
It’s like those who continue to say the Beatles and Stones “stole everything from the black man.”
As mentioned earlier, musical influences result in inspiration. It gives musicians a platform- a delivery platform- from where to build and where, whether it was “Long Tall Sally” or “Roll Over Beethoven”, they were the important starting blocks that led to “Come Together” and “Satisfaction” and the incredible originality of Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s, the White Album and Beggar’s Banquet, Exile On Main Street.
These musical influences are what, amongst so many other originals, led to an amazing Stones track like “Gimme Shelter” which introduced many of us to the incredible vocals of Miss Merry Clayton. Was any of these works “stealing from the black man”? Surely, it was influence becoming the impetus- the inspiration- to take those brave steps to create what’s never been heard before?
It’s like the protests and howls of dissatisfaction from Desolation Row when Bob Dylan decided to Revisit Highway 61 and ended up with Queen Mary and Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.
Dylan might have first been influenced by the songs of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot- and then went on to create his own music.
BB King was an influence to so many, not only because of his music, but because of his LOVE for his music and the music of others. It was a long journey of discovery, but also a journey of sharing- sharing his music with others and us- with humility. And respect.
Music is music is music and we might have lost one of the greatest gentlemen of music, but his music lives forever, as does the music he created with others and him being an influence and inspiration for other musicians to pick up the guitar and make love to music with their own mistresses influenced by Miss Lucille.
Perhaps most importantly, BB King’s legacy will be seen as bridging musical gaps- bringing different personalities and generations of musicians together to simply enjoy sharing making music.
Sharing music: Many don’t do it nearly enough.
Or, perhaps, more pertinently, the musicians who don’t share their craft is because they’re simply not good enough- and being copyists, have nothing original to say? Or they know it all.
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and Fast Track Global Ltd