B.B. King just keeps rolling along. Diabetes, a Buddha belly and mid-octogenarian status, none of that slows down the blues icon.
The thrill is not gone for the lionized vocalist-guitarist, who will perform Tuesday and Thursday at the Capitol Theatre.
King, 88, is still captivating audiences generations after starting an exceptional career in 1949
“I still love it,” King said. “There’s nothing else I would rather do. If I can still do it, why stop?”
It’s difficult to imagine what else King could accomplish. King has played more than 15,000 concerts.
The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee is regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in history, one who has changed the blues landscape. He has sold millions of albums and influenced perhaps as many players.
He could be resting on his considerable laurels but hanging up his beloved guitar “Lucille” is not an option.
“I know I’m past retirement age, but I just love playing,” King said. “I still have the energy and desire to get out there and entertain. There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting out there in front of a crowd and playing the blues. I’m just as good as ever. I’m still going out there and making a living. What else could I do?”
Well, he could oversee his chain of B.B. King’s Bar and Grills. He could just fool around in the studio. King could also do something that he could never imagine, relax at home in Indianola, Miss.
“I could do a lot of things, but I would rather not,” King said. “As long as I have this energy, I’ll do what I love best. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you have to shut down. I’m feeling good.”
King is hellbent on spreading the news about the blues, and is happy to encourage any fledgling artists. “The younger people are the future of the blues,” King said. “We got to keep the blues going.”
King’s words and music still carry considerable weight. Fans come out in droves to catch King. Middle-age white folks predominate in the audience.
“Every now and again I’m asked if that bothers me,” King said. “The only thing that would really bother me is if I didn’t have any people at all in the audience. I would like to have more black kids come out to the shows. I would like young people in general to come to catch the concerts.
“I’m not necessarily talking about them seeing me as much as (experiencing) the music. If they could come out they would better understand the music. We have to teach the young people about the music. If people would give blues a chance, they might be surprised. I love it and so would many people if they listened to it.”
King, who played Bonnaroo in 2008, appeared on “Sanford and Son” and is a self-avowed Frank Sinatra junkie, happens to be one of a kind.
“I’ve always just been me,” King said. “And I’ve had fun doing it.”