B.B. King

Blues in the blood

It is Monday, July 22, 2002. You are staying at the Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne for the second time. You have come here for a few days to see the town and catch some of the artists appearing at the 10th Blue Balls Festival. You yourself headlined a sell-out concert last Friday evening.

Despite your advancing years – you are almost eighty! – you still manage to wow your fans with pure blues. Not for nothing do the initials B.B. in your name stand for Blues Boy. You left school without finishing and went to work on a plantation, but that did not stop you quickly becoming one of the world's most influential blues guitarists and singer-songwriters.

You were inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Rolling Stone Magazine ranks you third amongst the greatest 100 guitarists of all time. Your first number one hit in the R&B charts was «3 O’clock Blues» back in 1951. Your second hit came in 1954: «Everyday I Have the Blues» is one of the biggest selling blues songs of all time.

You have played alongside many other great musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Bono of U2 and Eric Clapton.

 

Your concerts are not unlike church services: you, the master of ceremonies, sit on a chair and sing your world-famous hymns accompanied by a festive backup band.

This evening your plan was to go straight up to your room after dinner, as you are checking out tomorrow. But then you hear some passionate blues being played in the Schweizerhof's Zeugheer Hall by a young English performer by the name of Lee Sankey.

During the Blue Balls Festival, the hotel hosts an evening event called the Five Star Club, which features music until the early hours. This kind of music is your elixir of life – you simply have to hear it.

You grab hold of your guitar, «Lucille», and make your way to the stage.

The audience is still in the dark, but Sankey knows exactly who you are. He plays a few chords then announces into the microphone: "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. B.B. King!"

You acknowledge the applause with some virtuoso licks on Lucille, then leave the stage to your brothers-in-blues.

The next day, you write in the Schweizerhof's guest book:

„To you and staff. Many thanks, B.B. King”

That entry has now been immortalised on a table in the Schweizerhof Bar. The hotel welcomes you back to that very table in 2010. There you sit, your arm around Lucille and blues in your blood. An icon.