Once again for the first time, welcome to the Austin City Limits stage: the King of the Blues, Mr. B.B. King.
“B.B. King personified blues music for the whole world,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “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.” In honor of the late, undisputed King of the Blues, ACL is proud to bring that iconic hour out from the vault and back to television for the first time in 22 years.
The first of two legendary appearances on ACL, King’s debut episode was recorded in 1982 and originally broadcast in 1983 as part of Season 8. The 11-song set spans the length and breadth of his career to that point, from his then-new album Love Me Tender (including “Since I Met You, Baby” and the title track, a cover of the Elvis Presley classic) to his own standards “Everyday I Have the Blues” and “The Thrill is Gone.” In a powerhouse performance, King hits full-force with a voice that is neither harsh nor sweet, that bends, like his fingers, with each note.
“There was electricity in Studio 6A that night like no other,” says Lickona. “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!”
“He was larger than life, but a gentle man with a kind soul and big heart. 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.”
Go here for more information on this episode, and check here to see where/when you can catch it. Be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest ACL update, and subscribe to our newsletter for even more info. Next week: Bob Mould and Delta Spirit.