In anticipation of Friday’s show with Willie Nelson…
“When I first met him, I was playing at a place in Nashville called the Exit/Inn. I was doing one of his songs, “Nightlife,” and boy I reared back to squall and looked right in Willie Nelson’s face in the audience. Oh man, you talkin’ about nervous nervous nervous. My knees started to shake I managed to finish the show, but that was pretty close to the end of it. I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. But after the show, he came backstage and congratulated me on the song. I still was nervous, but that just shows you what a nice guy he was. His heart’s as big as I am.” — In the Oxford American 2003 Music Issue’s tribute to Nelson’s 70th birthday.
‘When I got near the stage, Bill Graham gave me the best and the shortest introduction I ever had. He said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King.’ Everybody stood up, everybody. It was the first time I ever got a standing ovation in my life. It was so touching that I cried. Big grown man crying.”—On playing the Fillmore in 1968 in front of hippies. The New York Times, March 2, 2003.
”Pepticon, Pepticon, sure is good/ You can get it anywhere in your neighborhood.”—Lyrics for a jingle for a health tonic that sponsored “King’s Spot,” a 10-minute show King hosted on Memphis’ WDIA in 1948.
“I was making 22 dollars and a half driving a tractor [a week] and ran into a lady who was going to pay me 12 dollars and a half a night. . . . West Memphis at that time was like a little Las Vegas. Nearly every juke joint had gambling in the back, so my job was to play for people who didn’t gamble. I loved my job because a lot of girls were there, and, boy, I’ve been addicted to them all my life.” On his first steady gig, in West Memphis, in the late ’40s.” Washington Post, Feb. 29, 2008.
I like doing it. It’s a game that feels good—warm and close and different than anything else in the world. I like loving on Peaches.”—On young love, with his first lady friend, Peaches, who was seven; he was six. From King’s autobiography, “Blues All Around Me.”