Grammy award winning blues guitarist, B.B. King comes to The Klein

B.B. King

B.B. King

Fairfield Theatre Company will host the legendary, Grammy Award winning, Blues guitarist, B.B. King, at The Klein Auditorium on Friday, April 18, at 8 p.m., 10 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport.

For more than half a century, Riley B. King — better known as B.B. King — has defined the blues to a worldwide audience. Born on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, B.B. began recording back in 1940. B.B. King knew his calling at a young age, and began playing for dimes in up to four towns a night. In 1947, B.B. hitchhiked to Memphis, TN, to pursue his music career and stayed with his cousin Bukka White, one of the most celebrated blues performers of his time, who schooled B.B. further in the art of the blues.

B.B. got his first big break in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM out of West Memphis. With the door partly open, King would soon find himself having steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis, and later to a ten-minute spot on black-staffed and managed Memphis radio station WDIA.

The “King’s Spot,” became so popular, it was expanded and became the “Sepia Swing Club” and soon King needed to come up with a catchy radio name. What started out as Beale Street Blues Boy was shortened to Blues Boy King, and eventually B.B. King.

Over the years, B.B. has developed one of the world’s most identifiable guitar styles. Having learned from the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, B.B King has integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of rock guitar’s vocabulary. With an every-note-that counts approach, and effortless phrasing, King has been a model for thousands of players since he began including, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Jeff Beck. B.B. has mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound. In B.B.’s words, “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.”

His reign as “King of the Blues” has been as long as that of any monarch on earth. Yet B.B. King continues to wear his crown well. At age 88, he is still light on his feet, singing and playing the blues with an inexorable passion. Time has no apparent effect on B.B., other than to make him more popular, more memorable, and of course more relevant than ever. Having released over fifty albums, B.B. King shows no sign of age and continues to do what he loves. His talent is well vindicated too. He’s received countless awards and honors including induction into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, NARAS’ Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1987, and honorary doctorates from Tougaloo(MS) College in 1973; Yale University in 1977; Berklee College of Music in 1982; Rhodes College of Memphis in 1990; Mississippi Valley State University in 2002 and Brown University in 2007, and the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi in 1992.

So get your tickets fast as Fairfield Theatre Company presents another award winning performer at the Klein Auditorium and hear for yourself why B.B. King is known as the “King of the Blues.”

Tickets are $45-$125 in advance; $4-$20 member discount; fairfieldtheatre.org, 203-259-1036.

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