B.B. King

B.B. King
Blues All Around Me

By Georgetown Fats
February 2012

I’m a B.B. King guy, it is no secret. Some may even consider me a “fan boy” for the King of The Blues.

I have had the opportunity to see The King of The Blues play live numerous times, not complaining about the often high price of the tickets for the shows. The tones B.B. produces out of Lucille always keeps the hair on my arms extended, even during the time at Hampton Beach when B.B. King played a Christmas song at an April show. When in Memphis I always tour the Gibson Factory, and allow myself to be a fanboy and spend some time drinking overpriced tourist drinks in the franchise that bears his name. Hell, during discussions on naming our first child, “Riley B” was a favorite for a boy and Riley Bea was a favorite for a daughter. I “compromised” with Riley Anne as Ms. Fats wanted to carry along a family tradition by carrying on the name Anne.

But I have never, until now, read a biography on B.B. King. In my own personal experience, autobiographies tend to be fluff pieces, not often worthy of the paper the words are printed on. Having received Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King as a Christmas gift from my best friend, I felt obligated to read this book; and I am glad I did.

From the beginning of All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King, it is clear that co-author David Ritz was content to let B.B. King tell the stories in B.B.’s voice. Ritz compiled notes and tapes over hundreds of hours of conversations over several days, weeks and months while out on yet another tour. It is hard not to flip through this book as it comes off very conversational.

It is hard not to cringe and feel genuine empathy as King provides in depth detail over his life before becoming B.B. King. Having detailed the memories of losing both his mother and grandmother so early in life, with only his own work ethic to keep himself alive, it is hard not to feel genuine respect for this self-made man who considers 250 live nights on the road as “slowing down.” And it is also impossible not to cringe at some of the more risqué details about B.B.’s carnal pursuits, as even an armchair psychiatrist can identify the early loss of the women in his life as some of the reasons for the poor choices King admits to making on the road while playing live shows over many years.

I will admit that when I had gone beyond the dust jacket ofBlues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King seen a chapter titled “Circumcision is no laughing matter,” any concern that this book was a fluff piece would have just drifted away.

While regret and perseverance are central themes of All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King anyone who chooses to read this book will not regret the purchase or time spent on it. From the blues novice to most hard core blues snob, it is hard not to enjoy All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King

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