“DEATH I PRAY, OH LORD, REMEMBER ME…” (B.B. KING, PERCY SLEDGE, JACK ELY, ERROL BROWN, R.I.P.)

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Let me tell you how big a deal B.B. King was.

CNN managed to write several hundred words to commemorate his passing and post it on their website without any obvious howlers.

Oh, they managed to emphasize his “influence” (mostly on famous white people) over his art. They neglected to mention that the reason he’s way more famous than, say, Freddie King, or Albert King (or Buddy Guy or Johnny Watson or Peter Green or Johnny Winter or a dozen or so other ace blues guitarists and/or showmen not named King) is because, unlike them, he was also a truly great singer.

But those are just the usual errors of omission.

Nothing like calling this guy an “R&B belter,” which must have been cut and pasted from the Wilson Pickett obit because wasn’t he also a black guy who recorded southern soul back in the sixties?

….Or calling this a “garage rock song”, evidently unaware that it was an R&B song, that “garage rock” describes a sound and an attitude (not a style of song, R&B or otherwise), and that, without the sound and attitude Jack Ely gave this particular R&B song, there probably would have been no need to call it something else.

…All of which makes saying this is “these days…better known as the theme song from the Louis C.K. series ‘Louie,'” merely a euphemism for “God help us all.”

Add Ben E. King to the roll call and since I’ve been doing this blog I don’t think there has been any month when rock and roll took such a hard hit. It’s getting late I guess.

And how does the world remember?

By mis-remembering.

Or reducing it to this:

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…And no doubt convening a panel of experts and having Wolf Blitzer quiz them about why the past keeps slipping down the memory hole. (“Hey, don’t you think Wolf can fill a fifteen minute slot with that? Don’t you? Sure he can!”)

Well, the man who dreamed “ain’t no difference if you’re black or white, brothers you know what I mean,” saw it coming…The prophets always do.

(For additional thoughts on Percy Sledge, you can go here or here. For Ben E. King’s recent obit, here.)

4 thoughts on ““DEATH I PRAY, OH LORD, REMEMBER ME…” (B.B. KING, PERCY SLEDGE, JACK ELY, ERROL BROWN, R.I.P.)

  1. When asked, by Charlie Rose in an interview, what would he prefer his last song to be, he replied. “Peace To the World” Today all the world ‘cries the Blues’ for B.B. King! Couldn’t be any other way….RIP BB!

  2. What a month…when you put the names all together.
    When Tavis Smiley asked B.B. If he had any regrets he said that he wished he had practiced more. This, at age 87. He was funny, wise and so humble about his talent.

    The two-part interview is on pbs.org.

    Thanks for this. I’d been away and hadn’t seen much news in the last month.

    • Welcome back Peggy. Happy to be of service, though I wish the occasion were less somber! I’ll have to track down that interview. It must have aired during one of the fairly frequent seasons when I’m without TV!

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