Blues Boy King, 1925-2015

As a writer, and a human being, music forms a huge part of my soul. This week our world lost one of the most beautiful musical voices ever, one Riley B. “Blues Boy” King. And with his passing, the voice of his guitar Lucille goes silent.

B.B. King and LucilleWhen I wrote the very first draft of An Alien’s Guide to World Domination, this scene came to me. I needed to give my main character, Louie, a profound reason to help save humanity, at great risk to herself. B.B. and Lucille were there.


Then B.B.’s band took the stage and started to play. Louie didn’t know if the house adjusted the sound level but suddenly it wasn’t too loud at all, it was perfect. And the band was in a groove, and the leader began whipping up some enthusiasm in the crowd.

Are you ready to have a good time?
I said, are you ready to have a good time?
I can’t hear you, Seattle!
I can’t hear you, Seattle!

Then the King himself walked on stage with his beautiful Gibson guitar, Lucille, and the crowd really went crazy. And as he played, Louie’s headache literally melted away. By the time he got to How Blue Can You Get, Louie thought the world was a fine, fine place. By the time he started his second set with The Thrill is Gone, she loved everything and everyone in that world again, and with Rock Me Baby, she believed even she could be forgiven.

It was something about how Lucille became a second voice for him—and he’d said, “I don’t play and sing at the same time, I never learned how”—but she is him singing, and she is the voice of his soul. And that voice is beautiful.

If humans can make beauty like that, maybe they are worth saving, after all.

B.B. King, the King of Blues, passed into some other realm where, I hope, Lucille still sings to him.

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