Generally speaking, if you’re 82 years old, have diabetes, and bad knees, you’re probably not accepting tour dates and creating play lists for your next show.
Unless you’re B.B. King, that is. Just caught his act at Biltmore this evening, and though his knees now keep him seated during his performances, other than that, I think he has more energy than I do at less than half his age!
King and long-time companion Lucille* sound as fine as ever. She never leaves his side, and he’s got a hand on her even when he’s not asking her to speak to the audience. Together, they’ve got the best seat in the house and they keep the audience in thrall: pulling us all the way down to the bottom of the Mississippi Delta blues, then sending us spiraling skyward as the saints go marching in. He’s funny and graceful and grateful all at the same time, and well aware that he’s been bringing on the blues for more than 60 years.
King is quite the storyteller, often changing the tempo of the show to include bits and pieces of his lifetime. He spins his stories against a blues backdrop that walks along in time with his words and the occasional murmured comment from Lucille. (I suppose you could say she’s “fretful” when he’s not paying her enough attention.)
It was a capacity crowd tonight, and I think everyone admired B.B. King’s stamina as much as his talent. He may be an octogenarian, but he’s also a living legend, and he makes both look easy. And even though I think Lucille is a good bit younger than he is, King is still keeping her–and his fans–more than satisfied.
*Lucille is B.B. King’s guitar, and he’s been faithful to her throughout a significant portion of his career.