Why B.B King Named His Guitar “Lucille” (and Other B.B. Info)
The King is gone...B.B. King has passed away at the age of 89...and a story that gets ignored is the tale how he came to name his guitar(s) "Lucille." Well - here's the story:
King was performing at an Arkansas dance hall in 1949; it was winter, and a common practice to keep the place warm was to ignite a barrel half-filled with kerosene. While B.B. was onstage, two guys began fighting and wound up knocking over the lit barrel, setting the dance hall on fire. Everyone - including B.B. - ran outside...but then he realized he left his beloved guitar inside and ran in, battling smoke & flames, to retrieve it. He later found out that the two guys who were fighting died in the fire - they were fighting over a woman named......Lucille. Since then, B.B. King named every guitar he owned "Lucille" as a reminder to never run into a burning building (or fight over a woman).
I suppose you can find all the B.B. King info you need on the internet, right? For instance:
1) Real name: Riley B. King
2) Lived September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015
3) Rock Hall inductee in 1987
4) "B.B." stood for "Blues Boy"
5) In the 1940's was originally was a singer and deejay at WDIA in Memphis, calling himself the "Beale Street Blues Boy"
6) Was inspired to play guitar by T-Bone Walker
7) Owns a string of 'B.B. King's Blues Clubs' around the country
8) Married twice
9) Favorite singer: Frank Sinatra
10) Gibson began manufacturing the 'Gibson Lucille' in honor of King's beloved guitar(s)
But one thing you may NOT know:
In the summer of 2013 I took a road trip up to Idlewild, Michigan; Idlewild was an extremely popular place for R&B performers to come and play: Motown artists, Aretha Franklin, Della Reese, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway.....and B.B King among them. One of the guys there told me that B.B King had contacted them and said one of his last wishes was to be able to return to Idlewild and perform one last time.
It didn't happen.
And now he's gone.