B.B. King performs in Sarasota Saturday

The 88-year-old "King of the Blues" brings his guitar Lucille to Van Wezel

January 2, 2014 

Blues legend, B.B. King gets down with "Lucille" during the 80th Birthday Jam held in King's honor at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss. MCT

TIM ISBELL — THE SUN HERALD

Every now and then, one group of music experts or another comes up with a list of the greatest guitarists of all time. No matter who compiles the list, B.B. King is always near the top.

He's called the "King of the Blues." He has more than 50 albums to his credit, but he's best known for his live shows. In his younger years, he performed hundreds of shows every year, and even now, at age 88, he plays about 100 gigs a year.

He'll be in Sarasota on Saturday with his legendary Gibson Lucille.

King has had a few mainstream hits over the years, most notably his 1970 recording of Roy Hawkins' "The Thrill Is Gone," and "When Love Comes to Town," which he recorded with U2. He's been indicted to both the rock 'n' roll and blues halls of fame.

He has a soulful voice and a recognizable vocal style, but it's his guitar playing that has made him a legend.

King can't (or says he can't) sing and play at the same time, so he developed a style of sparse guitar phrases that punctuate his vocals, and tasteful, complex but economical solos that influenced almost every rock guitarist of the '60s and '70s (and many from later periods) and almost every blues man who came after him.

He's revered by blues fans, but his fame spread to rock circles in the '60s. He became a rock star when he opened for the Rolling Stones in 1970.

Last year, he played at the White House and accompanied President Obama on "Sweet Home Chicago."

Details: 8 p.m. Jan. 4, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $55-$65 Information: 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.

-- Marty Clear

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