Saturday, May 16, 2015

The thrill is gone: A year of musical loss

The last year has been tough on music lovers. I can't remember a previous span of time during which we've had to say goodbye to so many greats, particularly during the last few weeks.

The latest musical icon lost: B.B. King. It shouldn't have come as such a huge surprise that he passed away on Thursday. The man was 89 years old, and he was blessed with a long and rich life. Yet when I read the news on Facebook, it knocked the wind out of me.

I always thought B.B. King would live forever. I took his existence for granted, like the sun, the moon and the oceans. He was just a natural part of the world. I can't remember a time when B.B. King wasn't a part of my world.

The funny thing is this: "The Thrill Is Gone" aside, I couldn't even name the title of a single B.B. King song. Oh, yes, there's also "When Love Comes to Town," his Rattle and Hum duet with U2, but that was really U2's thing. "The Thrill Is Gone" was 100 percent B.B. King with Lucille (his beloved guitar) on the side. Ironically, the first time I heard his signature song and biggest hit was via a cover version by Barbara Mandrell on her 1982 album ...In Black and White.

Though I'm no expert on his discography, I definitely know B.B. King's voice, for how can you forget such a singular sound. It was yearning, pleading, foreboding, the epitome of the blues. B.B. King was the blues. The thrill is most definitely gone.

Goodbye to B.B. King and to Joe Cocker, Lesley Gore, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King, Errol Brown, and all the others who contributed so much to the soundtrack of our lives.

B.B. King 1925-2015

Joe Cocker 1944-2014

Lesley Gore 1946-2015

Percy Sledge 1941-2015

Ben E. King 1938-2015

Errol Brown 1943-2015

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