The Life of Riley shows B.B. King’s talent flowing from a huge heart


There’s a ton of incredible musicians who make appearances in B.B. King: The Life of Riley, a documentary about the Mississippi blues legend released on DVD and Blu-ray today (July 1).

The lineup includes such amazing guitarists as Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, Derek Trucks, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mick Taylor, Joe WalshDoyle Bramhall, and Slash.

Not surprisingly, with that many pickers in the crowd, there’s a lot of crowing about King’s string-string abilities–especially his famed vibrato–and the huge effect he’s had on these players through his records and concerts over the years.

But the thing that hits you hardest after viewing director Jon Brewer’s two-hour study of King’s wonderful–and, at times, very painful–life, is the inner beauty of the man himself.

He’s such a freaking nice guy!

I’ve been telling everyone what a beautiful soul King is since I first encountered him in the flesh in a North Vancouver hotel when he was playing a string of dates at a place called the Plazazz Showroom. He was just so polite and kind, and generous with his time.

I’ve never met a famous musician quite as unassumingly awesome as that in my 30-plus years of rock writing–although classy Queen guitarist Brian May comes to mind as a worthy runner-up in the Too Good a Guy To Be True competition.

You’ll learn all about King’s impoverished childhood and his struggle to survive in The Life of Riley–which also features everybody’s fave narrator, Morgan Freeman–but mostly you’ll discover what a damn fine human being he is.

I love B.B. King.

And you should too.

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