Monday, May 18, 2015

B B King And The Chitlin' Circuit

B B King went out on the road and never came back after one of his first recordings reached the top of the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1951. He began in juke joints, country dance halls and ghetto nightclubs. Then he joined "The Chitling Circuit" playing 342 one-night stands in 1956 and 200 to 300 shows a year for a half-century thereafter, rising to concert halls, casino main stages and international acclaim.

The "Chitlin' Circuit" is the collective name given to the string of performance venues throughout the eastern, southern, and upper mid-west areas of the United States that were safe and acceptable for African American musicians, comedians, and other entertainers to perform in during the age of racial segregation in the United States (from at least the early 19th century through the 1960s).
The name derives from the soul food item chitterlings (stewed pig intestines).
Noted theaters on the chitlin' circuit included the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Smalls Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; the Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg, Florida, and The Madam C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis; and, later the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California. This venue became an annual occurrence for the Dynamic Duo of B B King and Bobby "Blue" Bland, together.
Many notable performers worked on the chitlin' circuit, including B B King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Count Basie, Sam Cooke, Sheila Guyse, Jackie Wilson, Peg Leg Bates, George Benson, Hammond B-3, Jeff Palmer, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Wayne Cochran, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, John Lee Hooker, Lena Horne, Etta James, B.B. King, Donna Hightower, Patti LaBelle, Moms Mabley, The Delfonics, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Wilson Pickett, Richard Pryor, Otis Redding, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Marvin Gaye, Little Richard, The Miracles, Ike & Tina Turner, The Four Tops, The Isley Brothers, The Supremes, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Tammi Terrell, Muddy Waters, Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis, O.V. Wright, Marvin Sease, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Flip Wilson, Jimmie Walker and Roy Hamilton.

Blues guitarist B.B. King passed away Thursday May 14th at the age of 89. Here, Bonnie Raitt pays tribute to her friend, collaborator and inspiration.
B.B. was a god from the first time we all heard him. You listen to those early recordings with that cry in his voice, even as a young man. I still have the 45 of "Rock Me Baby" that I wore out playing when I was a teenager.
I used to sit there and play it and move the needle back to the beginning and play it over and over. It's so sexy and the groove is hellacious. A lot of people have covered that song, but that's my favorite version. Every great blues guitarist has his own style. But with B.B., it was about his vibrato, his phrasing and the licks he chose — and his restraint. It was all about what he played and what he didn't play. He was sweet and eloquent in his playing, but when he turned it on, he could be fierce.

My manager worked with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, and B.B. was Buddy's hero, so I got to go backstage and see B.B. when he was in and out of blues festivals. He was always very complimentary about my playing. He was always so gentle and humble and appreciative and he got a big kick out of the fact that all us young white kids got him. We became friends and later he would confide in me about his personal life and how he loved the ladies. To watch him backstage flirting with beautiful women was a delight. He loved his fans, but he enjoyed the company of kind and appreciative women. I always wished he'd had a steadfast and steady partner, but he was on the road so much. He could have retired years ago and cut his schedule back, but he told me he stayed on the road to be able to support his band and crew. He had a big band. I always wondered how he could afford it. He just worked all the time.
He was pretty happy, but I always wondered if he was a lonely guy. But I never asked him about that — I didn't want to invade his space. He must have had some kind of pain in his life, but talk about overcoming whatever hardships he had.
When we recorded "Baby I Love You" [for the 1997 King duets album Deuces Wild], he had just played Dallas the night before and drove all night to get to the studio. He must have had two hours of sleep. But he was still such a champ. He was completely professional and said, "Whatever key you'd like." He was so classy and so bold at the same time. He was an old-school Southern gentleman, but his playing was razor-sharp. I learned so much about dynamics from him.
 Riley B. King aka B. B. King (born September 16, 1925) is an American blues guitarist and songwriter. He is widely considered one of the best (and most respected) blues musicians in the world. One of his trademarks is the naming of his guitars "Lucille", a custom he began in the 1950s.
Early years
Born in Berclair, Mississippi, just outside of Indianola, Mississippi, King spent much of his childhood sharing time living with his mother and his grandmother and working as a sharecropper. King has said he was paid 35 cents for each 100 pounds (45 kg) of cotton he picked before discovering his other talents. At an early age, King developed a love for blues guitarists like T-Bone Walker and Lonnie Johnson and jazz artists like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Soon King was cultivating his own musical skills singing Gospel music in church. He initially started busking on the streets of Indianola but soon learned a valuable marketing lesson — the gospel tunes he played were well received by passersby, but tips unfortunately came in the form of praise and pats on the back, not loose change. Once King changed his tune (literally) and began singing about things to which everyone could relate, most notably the dynamics of man-woman relationships, his fortune quickly changed. In just eight hours on the streets of Indianola, for example, he could clear $10 or more. Making music was more lucrative and less time-consuming than picking cotton, and the regimented routine improved King's chops and confidence considerably.
In 1943, King moved to Greenwood, Mississippi, and while there had his first radio broadcast in the now historical Three Deuces Building (222 Howard St), home of the former WGRN radio station. Three years later, King moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he finely honed his guitar technique with the help of his cousin, country blues guitarist Bukka White.
In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. In order to heat the hall, a barrel half-filled with kerosene was lit, This was quite common. During a performance, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. This triggered an evacuation. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside the burning building. He entered the blaze to retrieve his guitar, a Gibson acoustic. Two people died in the fire. The next day, King discovered that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. King named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every one he owned since that near-fatal experience, "to remind me never to do a thing like that again."
Eventually, King began broadcasting his music live on Memphis radio station WDIA, a station that had only recently changed their format to play all-black music which was extremely rare at the time. On the air, King started out using the name "The Pepticon Boy" which later became the "Beale Street Blues Boy". The name was then shortened to just Blues Boy and, eventually, simply "B.B."

Recording years
In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles based RPM Records. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who would eventually found the legendary Sun Records.
In the 1950s, King became one of the most important names in R&B music, collecting an impressive list of hits under his belt that included songs like "You Know I Love You," "Woke Up This Morning," "Please Love Me," "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta' Love," "You Upset Me Baby," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Sneakin' Around," "Ten Long Years," "Bad Luck," "Sweet Little Angel," "On My Word of Honor," and "Please Accept My Love." In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records.
In November of 1964, King recorded the legendary Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
King first found success outside of the blues market with the 1969 remake of the Roy Hawkins tune, "The Thrill Is Gone," which became a hit on both pop and R&B charts, which was rare for an R&B artist. King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love." From 1951 to 1985, King appeared on Billboard's R&B charts an amazing 74 times.

Going mainstream
The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s saw King recording less and less, but maintaining a highly visible and active career appearing on numerous television shows, major motion pictures and performing 300 nights a year. In 1988 he reached a new generation of fans via the single "When Love Comes To Town", together with the Irish band U2. In 2000, King teamed up with guitarist Eric Clapton to record Riding With the King.
In 2003, he shared the stage with the rock band Phish in New Jersey, performing three of his classics and jamming with the band for over 30 minutes.
In 2004, King was awarded an honorary Ph.D from the University of Mississippi and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him the Polar Music Prize, for his "significant contributions to the blues". King had also donated his extensive blues collection to the Ole Miss Center for Southern Studies.
In June 2006, King will be present at a memorialization of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail will be erected.
Over the years more than 100 BB King concerts have been broadcast, at least partly, on radio and TV in many countries.
At 80, King has lived a very full and active life. He has been a licensed pilot, a known gambler and is also a vegetarian, non-drinker and non-smoker. King has lived with diabetes for over ten years and has been a visible spokesman in the fight against diabetes, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products.

According to a 2003 listing in Rolling Stone magazine, B.B. King is the greatest living guitarist, and ranked 3rd among the "100 greatest guitarists of all time" (behind late Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman). [1]
He is mentioned in the Beatles' song "Dig It".
He has made guest appearances in numerous popular television shows, including "Sanford and Son," "The Cosby Show," "The Young and the Restless," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Sesame Street," and "Married With Children".
For much of his early career, he was usually seen playing a Gibson ES-355TD-SV guitar. This model was discontinued in 1980, being replaced by a Gibson BB King (Lucille) model, which is still available today.
B.B. King has also used other guitars, such as a Fender Telecaster, Gibson ES-330, Gibson ES-335, Gibson ES-345, Gibson ES-5, and Gibson ES-175. However, he is not as closely associated with these guitars as he is with the ES-355 and his Lucille signatures, produced by Gibson.
April 2006: Playing his 10,000th show at his New York City Club, King's triumph was marked as bitter sweet, having in the previous week experienced the deaths of his son to cancer and 14 year-old grandson in a store shooting.
Each year, during the first weekend in June, a B.B. King homecoming festival is held in Indianola.

This discography aims for completeness but is as-yet incomplete.

King of the Blues (1960)
My Kind of Blues (1960)
Live at the Regal (Live, 1965)
Lucille (1968)
Live and Well (1969)
Completely Well (1969)
Indianola Mississippi Seeds (1970)
B.B. King In London (1971)
Live in Cook County Jail (1971)
Lucille Talks Back (1975)
Live "Now Appearing" at Ole Miss (1980)
There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (1981)
Love Me Tender (1982)
Why I Sing the Blues (1983)
B.B. King and Sons Live (Live, 1990)
Live at San Quentin (1991)
Live at the Apollo (Live, 1991)
There is Always One More Time (1991)
Deuces Wild (1997)
Riding With The King (2000)
Reflections (2003)
The Ultimate Collection (2005)
B.B. King & Friends: 80 (2005)

"Miss Martha King" (1949, Bullet)
"Got the Blues" (1949)
"Mistreated Woman" (1950, RPM)
"The Other Might Blues" (1950)
"I Am" (1950)
"My Baby's Gone" (1950)
"B.B. Blues" (1951)
"She's a Mean Woman" (1951)
"Three O'Clock Blues" (1951)
"Fine-Looking Woman" (1952)
"Shake It Up and Go" (1952)
"Someday, Somewhere" (1952)
"You Didn't Want Me" (1952)
"Story from My Heart and Soul" (1952)
"Woke Up This Morning With A Bellyache" (1953)
"Please Love Me" (1953)
"Neighborhood Affair" (1953)
"Why Did You Leave Me" (1953)
"Praying to the Lord" (1953)
"Love Me Baby" (1954)
"Everything I Do Is Wrong" (1954)
"When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer" (1954)
"You Upset Me Baby" (1954)
"Sneaking Around" (1955) R&B: #14
"Every Day I Have the Blues" (1955) R&B: #8 1
"Lonely and Blue" (1955)
"Shut Your Mouth" (1955)
"Talkin' the Blues" (1955)
"What Can I Do (Just Sing the Blues)" (1955)
"Ten Long Years" (1955) R&B: #9 2
"I'm Cracking Up Over You" (1956)
"Crying Won't Help You" (1956) R&B: #15
"Did You Ever Love a Woman?" (1956)
"Dark Is the Night, Pts. I & II" (1956)
"Sweet Little Angel" (1956) R&B: #6
"Bad Luck" (1956) R&B: #3 3
"On My Word of Honor" (1956) R&B: #3
"Early in the Morning" (1957)
"How Do I Love You" (1957)
"I Want to Get Married" (1957) R&B: #14
"Twoubles, Twoubles, Twoubles" (1957) R&B: #13 4
"(I'm Gonna) Quit My Baby" (1957)
"Be Careful with a Fool" (1957) Pop: #95 5
"The Keyblade to My Kingdom" (1957)
"Why Do Everything Happen to Me" (1958, Kent)
"Don't Look Now, But You Got the Blues" (1958)
"Please Accept My Love" (1958) R&B: #9
"You've Been an Angel" (1958) R&B: #16 6
"The Fool" (1958)
"A Lonely Lover's Plea" (1959)
"Time to Say Goodbye" (1959)
"Sugar Mama" (1959)
"Sweet Sixteen, Pt. I" (1960) R&B: #2
"You Done Lost Your Good Thing" (1960)
"Things Are Not the Same" (1960)
"Bad Luck Soul" (1960)
"Hold That Train" (1960)
"Someday Baby" (1961)
"Peace of Mind" (1961) R&B: #7 7
"Bad Case of Love" (1961)
"Lonely" (1962)
"I'm Gonna Sit Till You Give In" (1962, ABC)
"Down Now" (1962, Kent)
"The Road I Travel" (1963)
"The Letter" (1963)
"Precious Lord" (1963)
"How Blue Can You Get" (1964, ABC) Pop: #97 8
"You're Gonna Miss Me" (1964, Kent)
"Beautician Blues" (1964)
"Help the Poor" (1964, ABC) Pop: #98 8
"The Worst Thing in My Life" (1964, Kent)
"Rockabye Baby" (1964) Pop: #34 8
"The Hurt" (1964, ABC)
"Never Trust a Woman" (1964) Pop: #90 8
"Please Send Me Someone to Love" (1964)
"Night Owl" (1964)
"I Need You" (1965)
"All Over Again" (1965)
"I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water" (1965)
"Blue Shadows" (1965, Kent)
"Just a Dream" (1965)
"You're Still a Parralellogram" (1965, ABC)
"Broken Promise" (1965, Kent)
"Eyesight to the Blind" (1966)
"Five Long Years" (1966)
"Ain't Nobody's Business" (1966)
"Don't Answer the Door, Pt. I" (1966, ABC) R&B: #2 Pop: #72
"I Say in the Mood" (1966, Kent) R&B: #45
"Waitin' for You" (1966, ABC)
"Blues Stay Away" (1967, Kent)
"The Jungle" (1967)
"Growing Old" (1967)
"Blues for Me" (1968)
"I Don't Want You Cuttin' Off Your Hair" (1967, Bluesway)
"Shoutin' the Blues" (1968, Kent)
"Paying the Cost to Be the Boss" (1968, Bluesway) R&B: #10 Pop: #39
"I'm Gonna Do What They Do to Me" (1968) R&B: #26 Pop: #74
"The B. B. Jones" (1968) Pop: #98
"You Put It on Me" (1968) R&B: #25 Pop: #82 9
"The Woman I Love" (1968) R&B: #31 Pop: #94
"Get Myself Somebody" (1969)
"I Want You So Bad" (1969)
"Get Off My Back Woman" (1969) R&B: #32 Pop: #74 10
"Why I Sing the Blues" (1969) R&B: #13 Pop: #61
"Just a Little Love" (1969) R&B: #15 Pop: #76
"I Want You So Bad" (1969) R&B: #34
"The Thrill Is Gone" (1970) R&B: #3 Pop: #15
"So Excited" (1970) R&B: #14 Pop: #54
"Hummingbird" (1970) R&B: #25 Pop: #48
"Worried Life" (1970) R&B: #48
"Ask Me No Questions" (1970, ABC) R&B: #18 Pop: #40
"Chains and Things" (1970) R&B: #6 Pop: #45
"Nobody Loves Me But My Mother" (1971)
"Help the Poor" (1971, re-recording) R&B: #36 Pop: #90
"Ghetto Woman" (1971) R&B: #18 Pop: #40
"The Evil Child" (1971) R&B: #34 Pop: #97
"Sweet Sixteen" (1972, re-recording) R&B: #37 Pop: #93
"I Got Some Help I Don't Need" (1972) R&B: #28 Pop: #92
"Ain't Nobody Home" (1972) R&B: #28 Pop: #46
"Guess Who" (1972) R&B: #21 Pop: #62
"To Know You Is to Love You" (1973) R&B: #12 Pop: #38
"I Like to Live the Love" (1974) R&B: #6 Pop: #28
"Who Are You" (1974) R&B: #27 Pop: #78
"Philadelphia" (1974) R&B: #19 Pop: #64
"My Song" (1975)
"Friends" (1975) R&B: #34 11
"Let the Good Times Roll" (1976) R&B: #20
"Slow and Easy" (1977) R&B: #88
"Never Make a Move Too Soon" (1978) R&B: #19
"I Just Can't Leave Your Love Alone" (1978) R&B: #90
"Better Not Look Down" (1979) R&B: #30
"There Must Be a Better World Somewhere" (1981) R&B: #91
"Into the Night" (1985) R&B: #15
"Big Boss Man" (1985) R&B: #62
"When Love Comes to Town" (1988, with U2) Rock: #2 Pop: #68 12
"The Blues Come Over Me" (1992) R&B: #63
"Riding with the King" (2000, with Eric Clapton) Rock: #26
"Everyday I Have the Blues" was the b-side to "Sneaking Around."
"Ten Long Years" was the b-side to "What Can I Do (Just Sing the Blues)."
"Bad Luck" was the b-side to "Sweet Little Angel."
"Troubles, Troubles, Troubles" was the b-side to "I Want to Get Married."
"Be Careful with a Fool" was the b-side to "(I'm Gonna) Quit My Baby."
"You've Been an Angel" was the b-side to "Please Accept My Love."
"Peace of Mind" was the b-side of "Someday Baby."
Billboard Magazine did not publish an R&B Singles chart between November 1963 and January 1965.
"You Put It On Me" was the b-side of "The B.B. Jones."
"Get Off My Back Woman" was the b-side of "I Want You So Bad."
"Friends" was the b-side of "My Song."
"When Love Comes to Town" was the first B.B. King single to chart on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.


The Electric B.B. King - His Best (1960)
Great Moments with B.B. King (1981)
The King of the Blues: 1989 (1988)
Got My Mojo Working (1989)
King of the Blues (Box Set, 1992)
Why I Sing the Blues (1992)
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: B.B. King; (2003)
Ultimate Collection (2005)

As-yet uncategorised recordings
Blues Summit; 1993
How Blue Can You Get? Live Performances; 1996
Deuces Wild; 1997
Take it Home; 1998
His Best - The Electric B.B. King; 1998
Completely Well; 1998
Greatest Hits; 1998
Blues on the Bayou; 1998
Millennium Collection - 20th Century Masters; 1999
His Definitive Greatest Hits; app. 1999
Live in Japan; 1999
Let the Good Times Roll; 1999
Makin' Love is Good for You; 2000
Anthology; 2000
Live at San Quentin (Remastered); 2001
Here & There - The Uncollected B.B. King; 2001
A Christmas Collection of Hope; 2001
Blues is King; 2002
Christmas Collection - 20th Century Masters; 2003
Reflections; 2003


Blogger Ichbin Richter said...
I have a right to sing the blues. I've laid in the ghetto flats, cold and numb. I've heard the rats tell the bed-bugs to give the roaches some.
4:41 PM  
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