96. B.B. King
September 16th, 1925
Key Tracks "The Thrill Is Gone," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Early in the Morning," "Ain't Nobody Home"
Influenced Eric Clapton, Ben Harper
"The beauty of B.B. is that the guitar playing is an extension of his voice," says the Allman Brothers Band's Derek Trucks, a longtime fan of King. "He's the embodiment of breaking through and keeping your spirit. There's no bitterness. When he sings, it lifts the spirit of the place." The notes that King squeezes from his guitar, Lucille, are so sharp and pointed that it's easy to overlook the sounds that emanate from his mouth. King brought a new level of nuance to blues vocals, beginning with his limber tone in early ballads like "You Know I Love You" and later with the poignant huskiness in "The Thrill Is Gone," from 1969, and the genial roar in his powerhouse version of "Every Day I Have the Blues," cut live in 1965 at the Regal Theater, in Chicago.