My hour with the “King of the Blues” B.B. King

Meeting with remarkable humans:  B.B. King

 

Although I will admit that many of the encounters I have had with celebrities over my career as a radio host were brief, the hour that I spent with B.B. King in 1990 will remain a high point in my earthly experience.

The scene was backstage at a venue that he had played every year since it had opened as a music venue in 1970; a tiny room with holes in the wall from backstage rock ‘n’ roll antics, cheap stained indoor/outdoor carpet, and the smell of stale beer and the garbage dumpsters which were in the alley just outside the door.

One question I asked him while we were getting set up to tape our conversation got a response that was perhaps the most relevant to his character: noticing that he was still drenched with sweat thirty minutes after the show, even though he had changed his shirt, I asked why he was still working so hard. (At the time he was performing over 200 dates a year!)

I am sorry that his response did not make it on the tape.

He leaned in close and said, “..see all these folks who are with me?…my band, they all have families and they need to eat and wear decent clothes. They rely on me.”

Almost a quarter-century later, he was still on stage, and appearing in television commercials.

Today, finally, his body is at rest.

The man who’s music inspired and influenced The Beatles, Eric Clapton and millions of fans representing four generations, was kind and generous, and approached his ‘duty’ with such grace.

He was also very protective of his ‘road family’; that evening as we walked in, he was reading the riot act to the local promoter about the searing heat from the stage lights which had been baking his band members throughout the evening’s performance. He had too much class to further complain that the venue (a converted 1920’s movie theater) also had no air conditioning, and from my personal experience was often miserable in the audience areas during the summer months.

The rest of the conversation, for the most part, is preserved on video, and you can enjoy it at your leisure, but I wanted to offer my personal impression of the man himself.

He reminded me so much of my late grandfather, the encounter brings tears to me even today.

Strong, loving, spiritual, and having a clear purpose on how he should use his talents in this life, that was B.B. King. He was also overweight, having a physical presence much like my grandfather.

Generosity. They say it is one way you can live beyond your natural years.

The farm boy from Mississippi who started his life in a cotton field, when questioned about it, expressed no ill will to those younger musicians (like Clapton) who had borrowed so much from him, and actually saw his association with members of The Beatles and U2 as helpful toward his current agenda, which ultimately was feeding his ‘family’.

Spending high-quality time with a man blessed with this kind of grace qualifies as sixty minutes so precious, I am grateful that it was documented, because that means I can share it with you.

(Excerpts of the interview are posted below, the last time I will post it on FB.)

Throughout my career, brief, ‘hallway meetings’ with great performers like Earl Scruggs, Iggy Pop and Dan Fogelberg, were noteworthy, but now you understand why that hour sitting knee-to-knee with the ‘blues boy’ of Mississippi, for the rest of my days, will remain at the top of my list.

See and hear the entire interview : https://youtu.be/b40Ovr_BEbw

Terry Wilson May, 2015

Communication Breakdown

If you are viewing on a smartphone, you can launch the menu with the three horizontal bars under the banner
in the upper right.

If you are viewing on a laptop or desktop computer, notice the menu for blog entries to the left, and photography by subject on the menu bar above, directly under our banner.

 

Life, it seems, provides us with too much of a good thing.

There was a time when I had but one email.

I miss those days, because even as I write this, I notice the subtle background anxiety that I might be missing something and should be checking my email accounts, all seven of them.

Or are there nine?

Let’s see; my personal/professional account, three Gmail accounts, then there is LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, and the seemingly ever-present ‘instant messenger’ (sure to pop up at an inopportune time and cover that button just when I need to read or send something..)

I noticed this a couple of years ago when a client would contact me one time by text to have me check my email, and the next time sent me files through Facebook Messenger.

Or Dropbox or Google Drive….I would bet that you know more than I when it comes to the virtues of the cloud.

My point is; in creating all of these avenues of at-the-speed-of-light communication, we have unwittingly created a situation where we can easily get bogged down on important family issues, DIY instructions, directions, or the latest cat video!

The chances to miscommunicate have been increased exponentially.

Add in a ‘smart’ phone with text and file-sharing capabilities, plus voicemail, and VISUAL voicemail!

At one point not that long ago, my family had one (rotary) phone, one phone number.. and all you had to remember were five numbers if you wanted to call grandma across town.

If she didn’t want to talk, she took the receiver off the hook.

Checking my electronic communications should only take a few minutes, but watch it expand to an hour or more if responses need to be composed and sent.

I admit I have never added up all the time to create stats on this, I really can’t afford to take the time to do it.

You see, that’s the problem.

It goes deeper.

Each time I log in to check an email account, all it takes is an enticement to ‘check out so-n-so’s Twitter post, or otherwise appeal to my short attention span…and I’m off surfing.

Bottom line here is what should have taken minutes, consumes much-larger-than-necessary chunks of my day.

And if I’m not meticulous, is an invitation to miss something important, tucked neatly in there among the solicitations.

We can’t comfortably go back to the simplicity of 1950’s technology, but I strongly encourage someone who is capable to create a simple computer interface console or portal that at a glance; 1) shows number of messages waiting on each account, 2) where the email originated, and 3) if it the email contains a solicitation or harmful spam-bot of some kind.

In the not-too-distant future, the ‘push’ technology that is being refined now will be delivering an extra measure of distraction, with things popping up on your desktop that are supposed to be geared to your tastes.

But they should only appear when you want to see them…we need to take back control.

For reasons of sanity and efficiency, this is important.

Here is where our fantasy interface earns it’s juice; it should contain a one-push ‘destruct button’ that isolates and cleans unwanted cookies from our devices.

Once that portal catches on, productivity in our first-world countries will increase, and third-world societies just now embracing the digital highway will never have to experience the confusion and waste of time that to this day, faces us on a daily basis.

The exponential growth of processing power becomes a disadvantage if it creates opportunities to miscommunicate.

###

We appear to have been left behind…

We appear to have been left behind.

2016 has turned into a giant bus, pulling out of the station with a load of well-loved and sure-to-be-missed creative genius and courage.

As I write these words, there is breaking news that Carrie Fisher passed earlier this morning from a heart attack she suffered while on a trans-Atlantic flight two days before Christmas. Considering the damage that could be exacted on a human heart in the amount of time it took to get her into treatment, it is a blessing. I am so sorry for her daughter, her mother and millions of fans who will mourn when they hear the news today.

The loss of Bowie almost immediately after this year dawned hit me hard. I never imagined I would live longer than Glenn Frey or George Michael.

Peppered throughout the last twelve months were so many well-known lights that were extinguished …from the world of music, literature, movies, sports and government.

Then there were the not so well-known, like my mother’s sister Kay and my cousin Barbara.

If you need a complete list of celebrities lost this year…it would be wise to wait until late Saturday before making the final tally.

I’m sure People Magazine and countless websites will list the famous, the regular folks will live on in our memories and through the good deeds they did during their lives.

Sons of Ohio George Voinovich and John Glenn left us this year with the highest and most positive examples of service. I am proud to say I met both men through work in television production; brief meetings that are nonetheless precious in my lifetime of memories.

George’s contributions included; as mayor, saving Cleveland from financial default, as governor, tireless efforts at strengthening Ohio’s business anchors, and as US Senator, Voinovich acted as one of the last true ‘statesmen’ working tirelessly for the benefit of all of the people in the country he loved.

The new movie coming out in early 2017 about the unsung heroes who were behind the magnificent accomplishments of US astronaut John Glenn will certainly keep his story front of mind.

The fact is, despite the mark they made on the world these were all mortals same as you and I and in the final analysis their historic significance is overall of less importance than the love they shared with family and friends.

Those of us left behind are charged with getting back on our feet and doing our part in filling the void, especially in community service and creative ways to solve common problems in our homes.

Give, unconditionally of your time and your love when you can.

Let’s trust that you and I can once again share our joy and sorrow as 2017 comes to an end.

Until then, be generous with yourself and others.

Bright Moments for your 2017.
Terry

Note: this was written and published on FB between the time Carrie Fisher passed and when her mother Debbie Reynolds followed her, a day later. Last but not least for the year was William Christopher, who was best-known for his role on M.A.S.H.  who died on new year’s eve.  Yeh, I know ..people die, but it was symbolically gratifying to see 2016 in the rear view mirror.

Of Monsters and Men

From Bride of Frankenstein (all rights reserved)
Film still from The Bride of Frankenstein
(all rights reserved)

(NOTE: if you are easily disturbed by reality, you might want to skip this one.
This was written while I was recovering from open-heart surgery and stuck for a week in a private rehab facility in the early Summer of 2014.

No rainbows and bunny farts this time..and it is likely to stretch your literary muscles a bit.)

As I was growing up, I was shielded from suffering. The very old or sick people in my family would just disappear one day amid hushed conversations by my parents and grandparents. I play acted the suffering of monstrous characters from the movies, like Wolf Man, The Mummy, and of course…Frankenstein. My mother revealed just before she walked on from this life, that she was reading the classic tale of Frankenstein’s monster while she was waiting for me to arrive in this world.

Explains a lot.

I mentioned that being in the rehab facility sometimes reminded me of what it might be like to be stuck in the nightmare-like mindscape of a surrealist film. Salvador Dali made films and they sometimes reflected the bad dreams he experienced, as well as the realities experienced growing up in an extremely violent Europe a hundred years ago. Most folks, when I mention his name, have no idea who he is, but that’s ok, as with most artistic masters, he will be rediscovered generations from now and people will wonder at his paintings, his sculptures and his films. They might even write songs about him, he was that cool.

Frankenstein seems to be recycled every decade or so, his untenable suffering reintroduced again and again.

Well, being in a rehab facility at times feels like being stuck in a nightmare, or at least being sucked into a Dali film with no way to escape suffering that calls out from darkened rooms down seemingly endless hallways.

My roomie Carl has been suffering since I joined him last Wednesday, a little less this evening than at first, dealing with a broken hip that, while he was laying in the hospital post-op, brought on a touch of pneumonia. Without sharing too many details, there has been a reasonable amount of moaning, coughing and calling out for pain medication in the middle of the night. This is layered under the tough experiences of the seventy-five other residents, some adept at laying on their ‘call buttons’ ..causing beeping noises from all directions while nurses and aids scramble to do what they can to provide relief.

Carl is not prone to hysterics or drama; he grew up in an orphanage and was essentially forced to join the military immediately after finishing high school, serving in the South Pacific during the period that included the Korean police action of the early 1950s. A manly man, farmer, mechanic and product of growing up during the great depression of the 1930s, which was a lot worse than what we have experienced over the last six years.

Not a whiner.

He is getting better, but indirectly experiencing his pain and humility has been unavoidable since there are just a few feet and a thin curtain that separate his world from mine. We have both apologized at least once for disturbing the other’s sleep, but for the most part, we act like men and just don’t talk about it.

Janet Watkins brought me a stack of magazines two nights ago and an unbelievable modern gothic treatment of the classic tale of Frankenstein.

It’s a pop-up book!

Unbelievable art and engineering went into this, and it is a more accurate adaptation of Mary Shelley’s book, which is widely regarded as the world’s first science fiction story. Like the legendary monster, the story will endure for centuries, a cautionary tale recounting the suffering of a creature who seemingly cannot die, thus is forced to endure his suffering without relief for all time.

My brain is obviously working overtime due to significantly increased blood flow, and although my body has a long road to 100% recovery, I will get there.

Technology and pharmacology will help me along, and the stiches that hold the grafted vessels to my heart will remind me of the stiches I always associated with the creature that was pieced together on an imaginary operating table almost two hundred years ago.

Terry Wilson

June 2014
Rockbridge Rehab Facility
Carroll, Ohio

 

From a FB post

Steampunk_Frankenstein by_z_a_l-d4r9dsm
Steampunk_Frankenstein by_z_a_l-d4r9dsm

Meetings with Remarkable Humans: Joan Baez

The recently late, and certainly great Joe Cocker was one of the stars of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969 and the subsequent movie that was made of the famous three-day hippie happening.

This was another sad reminder that I had several connections to the event, even though I missed attending (hearing about it the week after from one of my classmates who attended, and who incidentally… was never the same.)

During my radio career (1971 – 2002) I interviewed three performers from Woodstock; Joan Baez, John Entwisle of the Who and Jorma Kaukonen of The Jefferson Airplane.

Joan Baez was to be my very first radio interview.

It happened in the Fall of 1971.

Rather than join me at the ‘luxurious basement studio facilities’ of WOSR Campus Radio, then located in Drackett Residence Hall at Ohio State, I was asked to bring my cassette recorder to St. John Arena, where she would perform that evening. After the concert, I would get an audience with her (shared with a reporter from The Columbus Dispatch).

Two free tickets to a major campus concert event!

Plus, to get to hang out afterward with the star of the show; a Civil rights activist, Vietnam-protesting legend, and one of the highlight performers of the still recent Woodstock movie.

I was ecstatic, and since my girlfriend was to be in Columbus for the weekend, I was sure that I would be scoring major points with her as well.

The concert, as I recall, was good, but I mostly remember Debbie (the girlfriend) acting fairly strange about the prospects of going backstage with me after the concert. It turned into a minor tantrum as I cajoled her toward participation.

“..come on, it’s Joan Baez for cryin’ in a bucket”

Flat refusal.

I was flabbergasted!

After all, it was Debbie who had filled my head with all kinds of leftist thought, she also being from my hometown and a year ahead of me in college, a veteran of mild forms of campus insurrection.

Actually, ANY form of campus insurrection could end up costing dearly, as the families of four student at Kent State University would learn a year and a half earlier.

Joan knew the value of her on-screen Woodstock performance to broaden her anti-war reputation while touring campuses around the country with her sweet, sweet voice.

Today she is still a genuine hero of the revolution, and her name will be forever linked to the poet laureate of the times, Bob Dylan!

Yes folks, we eventually stopped the war, her music was a big part of the soundtrack of the era.

After the concert that evening ended, I found the contact who was to get us back to Joan’s dressing room. Although encouraged once again to go backstage, again Debbie refused.

“So what are you going to do while I’m back there?” I asked.

“Sit right here.”

“Oh really, all by yourself… in a thirteen-thousand seat arena?”

“Yep, right here” she said with resolve.

So I proceeded in to do the interview.

I remember Joan Baez looking tired, and a bit sad.

The woman from The Dispatch asked better questions, and got her to talk about Joan’s then-husband, author and anti-war activist Davis Harris, who had just been released from jail.

The tape from the evening is long-gone, it’s okay because I doubt if I asked anything of substance.

I was pretty nervous.

Joan was on TV recently talking about Woodstock, she looked pretty hot for being well over sixty.

Joan Baez, 1973 Photographer unknown.
Joan Baez, 1973
Photographer unknown.

And Debbie?

By the time I came out to look for her after the interview, she was still sitting there, stewing all by herself in the cavernously empty St. John Arena.

By her own admission, she was frequently an anti-social grouch, but I think she got over it that weekend.

We never spoke of it after that night, but remained in contact until her passing in 2013.

 

(Adventures with Woodstock alums John Entwistle of The Who and Jorma Kalkonen of The Jefferson Airplane in future journals.)

Happy New Year!!

A brand-new look to my website has been top of my priorities for the last few weeks, and now I am proud to release a dynamic, eclectic collection of my work from the year 1965 to the present day.

The first order of business is to feature the photo session from July of 2014 that captured the personality of Cleveland’s Chelsea Lyons (yes, her real name!!).  We all wish her luck for her musical debut CD in 2015.

7791web

Building…

This week my goals are to update my Adobe Creative Cloud software account; Photo Shop, Premiere and Audition. Editing this week on an instructional video for the Arthur Lauer Furniture Company of Milford, Ohio. They proudly offer fine teak wood products which are “Made in America”… actually in Milford, Ohio!!

Contact: terry@terrywilson.com

Hello world!

December 9, 2014

After almost twenty years with essentially the same web presence, we decided to update the online theme and content to better show both the current and past photographic expressions of Terry Wilson, Photographer.

Here is a brief video which shows a quick review of Terry’s film photography from 1970 through 2003 when he began his digital explorations. (See more recent work on the main site links)

Click on the links on the left to see more examples of his work.

Contact: terry@terrywilson.com

Have Camera, Will Travel