Author Archive: Jimmy

Things you should know about BB King

 

There is hardly a name that is more of a synonym to blues than BB King. With Lucille, he shook up the world of music and gave it new meaning, and he continued to do so for no fewer than six decades, during which he never stopped playing and re-inventing himself. Unless you are a BB King aficionado, you will certainly find the following facts on the famous blues legend interesting.

There was more than one Lucille

Eric Clapton called his trustworthy guitar Blackie, while Stevie Ray Vaughan named his Number One. BB King is indeed in good company as he, too, christened his guitar with a name dear to his soul. He called his Lucille, but unlike Clapton and Vaughan, over the years, he changed his guitar 40 times throughout his career as a musician. That, however, didn’t mean that he wasn’t loyal to his musical instrument of choice. All the Lucilles in BB King’s life were Gibson ES-355 models.

 

He didn’t serve in World War II, although enlisted

BB King certainly didn’t want to run away from his obligations as a US citizen and enlisted to go to the front during World War II. However, his application was dismissed because he was driving a tractor, and that was considered an essential occupation for keeping the front at home.

 

He was a tireless performer

Except for his very late years, when he became too weak and sick to perform, BB King had rarely missed a gig or a performance. To give an example, in 1956, together with his band, BB King performed 342 night gigs.

 

He was a vegetarian

You might remember some commercials for McDonald’s and Wendy’s featuring the blues legend, but BB King never ate meat. He was a convinced vegetarian, and that makes it all the stranger that he agrees to appear in ads for the well-known fast-food chains.

He could fly planes

Although used to getting to gigs across the country in a bus, BB King learned how to fly planes, and so began moving to the places of his performances using this means of transportation. He gave up after he reached the age of 70 years, at the insistence of his family. Rumor has it that a somewhat dangerous situation convinced him to give up on piloting himself.

 

He was awarded a few doctorates

The fact that BB King won numerous Grammy awards is no secret, but not as many people know about his doctorates which he received from prestigious musical institutions of education such as the Berklee College of Music, as well as Brown and Yale. There is even a recording studio located in the Mississippi Valley University that carries his name.

 

Interesting facts about King Crimson

 

King Crimson is one of those bands with a long history of making music. It was founded on the 13th of January 1969 at the London Fulham Palace Café. The name was inspired by a poem written by Peter Sinfield, one of the founding members.

The other person who contributed to the band’s creation was Robert Fripp. At first, Fripp was responsible with the road management and he was the one organizing the light shows. Although the two colleagues considered a romantic poem for the name, history considers it a synonym for the king of evil, Beelzebub.

King Crimson’s first record was called “The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp” and was sold in less than 500 copies. However, the group continued to play and their efforts soon paid off. The band’s launch year, 1969, was the same year when they had the biggest concert in their career.

On the 5th of July, King Crimson played in front of 700.000 fans. The event took place at the London Hyde Park and it received support from Rolling Stones. So far, the show remains the most important live manifestation from the band’s entire career.

If we were to talk about their work, we can say that the group’s most successful album is “Court Of The Crimson King. Although its creation took 4 years, it was worth the wait, because it soon reached no. 5 in the English charts and it reached the US Top 40, occupying the 28th position.

Ironically, the group decided to split exactly when they were heading towards huge success. Their album reached the first position in musical charts, but Robert Fripp decided to leave the band. He thought that King Crimson could not exist and evolve if he remained.

However, in 1972, the same Robert Fripp recalled the band to life. Since then, King Crimson has had several members who left for various reasons, but the band survived all the changes and it still exists. In all these years a lot of things have happened, so let’s find out a part of them.

  • Elton John and Brian Ferry (the lead singer from Roxy Music) wanted to become members of King Crimson, but they were turned down;
  • An ex member, Ian McDonald, brought Pete Sinfield into the band. Since then, Sinfield has written lyrics and developed an amazing psychedelic light show;
  • Fripp made some controversial public comments. He expressed his opinion on the art-rock movement saying how much he hates it. He also mentioned that he considers the music business “vampiric”.
  • The team was supposed to have their “final” show in the Central Park from New York City on July 1, 1974;
  • On October 18th, 1974, Fripp announced that the band was permanently over. However, this was not the end because he put King Crimson back together in 1981.

Regardless the changes and all of the instability, King Crimson still exists. Rumors say that their new album might be called “The Power To Believe”. The release date hasn’t been announced yet.

My favorite blues guitar players

 

Blues is my favorite music style and one of the most influential guitar and vocal genres. Additionally, it is complex and full of emotion. Adding these features up, it is easy to understand why the best blues guitarists held such an important role and why they influenced so profoundly our music today.

It all started at the end of the 19th century when the African-American communities of Southern US began playing and singing blues for the first time, which led to a domino effect that culminated with what we know today as blues.

And it is for this reason that I want to introduce you to the best blues guitarists, who shaped the music we consume today. It is by no means an objective or complete list, and it mostly consists of the artists I listen to on a daily basis.

 

 

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters is the first music magician I want you to discover. His passion for the blues is incomparable, and the emotion he transmits through his sound captivates me each time. I can’t help but feel like I am teleported to a land of smoke and sadness each time I put on any of his records.

He was an American blues musician, and one of the most successful artists of this genre, and he was considered “the Father of Chicago blues”. Muddy moved to England in 1958 where he shocked audiences with his loud, exciting, amplified electric guitar sound. His beats were alert and unique, and this instantly led him to become an inspiration and a muse for the British blues explosion.

 

B.B. King

The next name on my list shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if you know a thing or two about music in general. B.B. King was a God of sound. He was also American, and he was cherished for his songwriting abilities until his death in 2015. He reached fame with the help of his loyal electric guitar, which is why Rolling Stone magazine listed him at number three in the top of the best guitar players of all time.

What set him apart from other musicians was his sophisticated style, his clarity, and elegance. He performed solos, based on fluid string bending with a touch of vibrato. Many have tried to imitate him, but very few have succeeded even if at a smaller scale than the original, which makes sense.

 

Jimi Hendrix

The last great guitarist I want you to discover is Jimi Hendrix. While he isn’t exactly a blues musician and fits more into the rock genre, he was greatly inspired by electric blues and the unique sound of a warm and dirty overdriven guitar. He is considered by many one the greatest electric guitarists of all time.

Although his career started on the rhythm and blues music scene, his style shifted more towards rock, but his blues tunes are absolutely unforgettable.

I suggest you look at all of these grand artists on any music provider like iTunes or Youtube because it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to find your next favorite musician.

Free resources that can help you learn how to play the guitar

 

 

As with all other creative hobbies, playing the guitar is a lot harder than it looks at first glance. However, I also think it is worth the effort you put into it. It’s one of the – if not the most rewarding things I’ve ever learned, and I will recommend it for the rest of my life. The only problem is, like all things in life, finding a starting point.

It’s quite puzzling to learn it on your own, and that’s why I’ve decided to put together a list with some of the classes that have helped me understand this instrument better. You have quite a nice selection, with resources that cover all grounds, from Youtube to smartphone apps, because in this day and age we don’t have to be limited by just one thing.

The first thing I want to recommend to you is apps. We all heard of them, and we’ve all used them. And when learning how to handle the guitar, they could be lifesaving. You can pretty much find hundreds of cool apps, for both Android and iOS. Moreover, they will help you not only learn the notes but also tune your instrument, which is something that I still haven’t really mastered.

My favorite app is Real Guitar, which I have both on my phone and my tablet. It is simple to use, and I’ve tackled the app to teach myself how to play my acoustic guitar, and in all honesty, I’ve never sounded better. It is very intuitive, and it features a digital guitar which you can play for hours on end without your fingers hurting.

Next on my list is Shred Academy. This is a free guitar learning resource, which I stumbled upon on YouTube, in my search for good online teachers. This channel features more than 100 guitar learning videos, ideal to get you started on the basics of the craft.  What I like about it, believe it or not, is that you can choose your preferred instructor, genre, or technique, for a super personalized experience. And there’s no better way of learning something then seeing it with your own eyes.

Another equally awesome Youtube channel is Dolphin Street. The famous guitarist Robert Renman runs it, and it includes a unique thing on this website –  a virtual library of information. It teaches music theory, to take your lessons to the next level. There are even Q&A sessions where you can leave your comments in case you need something explained in detail.

And the last one is the ever-so-famous Ultimate-Guitar. If you’re into learning by experiencing rather than from theory, using tabs is the way to go. Ultimate-Guitar is the best source out there since it has been around for a while now, and it has a fantastic selection of songs for you to choose from.