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.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 :

Terry Wilson

Posted on Facebook in May, 2015

Communication Breakdown

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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.

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