Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday: Jon Hendricks & B.B. King

Jazz vocalist and songwriter Jon Hendricks was born on Sept. 16, 1921 in Newark, Ohio, and is one of the originators of the vocalese style of Jazz singing, who is also considered one of the best practitioners of "scat" singing. In 1957, he teamed with Dave Lambert and Annie Ross to form the legendary vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Hendricks influenced notable greats such as Bobby McFerrin, Van Morrison, The Manhattan Transfer, and Al Jarreau. Al Jarreau is quoted to say that Hendicks is..."pound-for-pound the best jazz singer on the planet—maybe that's ever been"

Riley B. King, commonly known by his stage name B.B. King, was born on Sept. 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, MS. This legendary Blues guitarist, songwriter, and philanthropist was influenced by the pioneering Blues artist Aaron "T-Bone" Walker. B.B. King first met T-Bone Walker while working as a disc jockey at local radio station WDIA, which is where he gained the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "B.B.". After hearing Walker, King is noted as saying..."Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have [an electric guitar] myself. Had to have one, short of stealing!"

The story of "Lucille", B.B. King's beloved guitars:

In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. In order to heat the hall, a barrel half-filled with kerosene was lit, a fairly common practice at the time. During a performance, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. The hall burst into flames, which triggered an evacuation. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside the burning building. He entered the blaze to retrieve his beloved $30 guitar, a Gibson acoustic. Two people died in the fire. The next day, King learned that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. King named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every one he owned since that near-fatal experience, as a reminder never again to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women.

With more than half of his 52 year career playing his prized "Lucille", B.B. King is most known by covering Roy Hawkins' tune titled "The Thrill Is Gone". Over King's career, he has won 15 Grammys and other awards, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, multiple television appearances, and has played in over 15,000 performances.

Having a cemented reputation of being one of the most respected, succesful, and most recognized bluesman, B.B. King is #3 on Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time, and #3 on Time Magazine's Ten Best Electric Guitarists of All Time.

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