In an exclusive statement to Rolling Stone, ZZ Top guitarist and singer Billy Gibbons is paying tribute to blues legend B.B. King, who died last night at the age of 89. King, he says, has been important to him for practically his entire life.
“It’s difficult to fathom a world without B.B. King,” Gibbons says. “He’s been with me literally since the dawn of my musical consciousness. I first encountered him when I was a small child. My father was a musician and would take me around to studios in Houston. We met B.B. King at ACA Studios when I was, maybe, 7. He made a huge impression on me and that encounter continues to resonate.
“Over the ensuing years, we were privileged to spend time in his presence on numerous occasions,” the ZZ Top singer and guitarist continues. “He was warmhearted, generous and giving. B.B. King was an early and continuing hero. His passing is very sad but we take solace in the fact that we still hold him in absolutely the highest regard as both a transcendentally talented musician and a truly wonderful human being whose spirit will always be with us.”
In addition to playing with King onstage on occasion, Gibbons joined King on “Tired of Your Jive” on the blues great’s Grammy-winning 2005 LP B.B. King & Friends: 80. Here is video of King and Gibbons riffing on stage, briefly singing “You Are My Sunshine” and chatting about their “Tired of Your Jive” duet.
Additional reporting by Patrick Doyle