BB King

BB King

Not that obvious, but there is no doubt how much of an influence “Blues” music has been on our work. Merely thinking straight off the top of my head, songs such as Waterfront, Celebrate, Sanctify, Stand By Love, Big Music and Let The Day Begin are, for example – all Blues based. Each of them could only have materialised thanks to the Blues pattern that pulses away at the core of those tunes.

BB King was for many – the greatest of all Bluesmen. A common thought being that he could emote more in one musical note than most others could when playing thousands. The reality being that even within the one note, he was usually expressing an overwhelming force of feeling, one that surely related to a life lived beyond what most could ever imagine. Especially in its origins, surrounded by a mix of pure poverty and from a time and place when racism was still the norm.

The last time Simple Minds were in New York, I gave up on a chance to see BB King perform. It was the night before our own show and I decided to rest. Instead of going out to a show that would surely lead me to spend much of the night talking before and after the event.  Not so good for the voice! My father went instead, and he could not wait to tell me the thrill he experienced as he sat a table just  a few yards from where BB sat on stage.

And the thing that made it all the more poignant for Dad was that the first tune King played just happened to be “You Are My Sunshine” – all of which also just happened to be one of my mother’s favourite songs. One I can still hear her sing in fact.

I could see the wetness come to Dad’s eyes when he was telling me this. So obvious how much he was still missing her. And I can feel it come to mine right now as I recall it.  That is what “The Blues” does to you. It helps you smile through pain. And that is why even in the event of his passing, we will continue to love the music of BB King.

Jim Kerr