Goodbye #1 Lucille

lucilleThe older you become, the more the mortality of the immortals becomes apparent. Very sad this morning to hear of the death of BB King.

Like many people learning guitar in the 1970s, I’d cast around for different styles and things to try out. I like to think Paddy was doing the same sort of thing, and I see hints of that here and there. Like little Freemasonic gestures to the initiated. And BB King is in there with that.

The thing was that once you’d figured out the “Stairway to Heaven” thing, and “Smoke on the Water”, and maybe a party piece or two, you discovered it was fairly easy to sound a bit like BB King. Blues scale and a 12 bar backing track on an old cassette or with your mates in a garage somewhere. And then not long down the line, you’d realise it was impossible to sound like him. Not because of flashy virtuosity, but because of a unique sound, perfect taste, and something indefinable. Rollmo.

He was somehow present at that time when some of the darker, smokier, corners of the urban and delta blues were a little more difficult to find: he was a sort of gateway to that, the wonderfully evocative stories of other players at the crossroads with an appointment with the devil and such.

I had a VHS tape recorded off daytime TV as I recall and I wore the oxide off it, playing along when I could get the living room to myself. And then there was an article in Guitar Player Magazine which I must have read hundreds of times – and suspect and rather hope Paddy did too – but of which all I remember 40 odd years later is the story of Lucille.

As a young man, King was playing in a club that caught fire. He risked his life and nearly died going back in to rescue his guitar. Later discovering the fire had started during a fight between two men over a girl called Lucille, he gave that name to all his guitars to remind himself “never to be so damn foolish ever again”.

And so when Paddy came to write a selection of songs around a single name, he chose “Lucille”.

Was a toss up between this and “Let the Good Times Roll”. But I think this is appropriate for a very sad morning.

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