B.B. King twice appeared on Austin City Limits over the course of his career, and to celebrate the legacy of the legendary bluesman following his death, the long-running PBS series will dig into their vaults on Saturday, May 30th and rebroadcast the King of the Blues’ first ACL showcase for the first time in 22 years. Rolling Stone exclusively presents two cuts from that 1982 performance, King’s signature “The Thrill Is Gone” and his beloved “Every Day I Have the Blues.”
“B.B. King personified blues music for the whole world, but when he first appeared on Austin City Limits in 1983, it was rare for a blues artist to command a full hour on national television,” ACL‘s executive producer Terry Lickona said in a statement. “There was electricity in Studio 6A that night like no other. It was pure B.B. – just him, Lucille and one of the best road bands he ever toured with. He mixed up hardcore blues with Elvis ballads, and had the audience in the palm of his hand, following his every lead. It was historic.”
Although filmed in 1982, King’s ACL gig didn’t broadcast until the following year during the show’s eighth season. The bluesman’s 11-song set featured a handful of his greatest hits as well as covers culled from King’s 1982 Nashville-inspired album Love Me Tender, including Elvis Presley’s classic, Sonny James’ rendition of “Since I Met You Baby” and a burning rendition of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life.”
“He was larger than life, but a gentle man with a kind soul and big heart,” Lickona added. “His ACL performance ranks as one of my personal favorites, and I was never more proud than when he somehow slipped Austin City Limits into the lyric of his classic rendition of Willie Nelson’s ‘Night Life.’ We’ve lost a giant.”
B.B. King’s ACL episode is set to air on Saturday, May 30th at 8 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET.