Eric Clapton pays his respects to his close friend B.B. King, who died last night at the age of 89, in a video he posted on Facebook. A close friend of the late blues legend, Clapton also cites King as one of his greatest influences. “He was a beacon for all of us who loved this kind of music, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart,” he told fans in the remembrance video.
“I just wanted to express my sadness and to say thank you to my dear friend B.B. King,” Clapton said. “I want to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave to me as a player over the years and for the friendship that we enjoyed. There’s not a lot left to say because his music is almost a thing of the past now and there are not many left that play it in the pure way that B.B. did. If you’re not familiar with his work I would encourage you to go out and find an album called B.B. King Live at the Regal, which is where it all really started for me as a young player.”
In his autobiography, Clapton wrote that B.B. King was “without a doubt the most important artist the blues has ever produced.”
He and King first jammed together in 1967, when the then–22-year-old Cream rocker performed alongside the legendary bluesman at New York’s Cafe Au Go Go. The two guitar greats continued to perform live together frequently in the ensuing decades. They eventually entered the studio together to record “Rock Me Baby,” a track off King’s 1997 duets album Deuces Wild. In 2000, Clapton and King teamed for their Grammy-winning album Riding With the King. They partnered once more in the studio for “The Thrill Is Gone,” which appeared on King’s 2005 LP 80.
Here are some of Clapton and King’s greatest moments together, from their 2010 Crossroads Festival appearance to their all-star performance for B.B. King’s 1987 concert film A Blues Session.