By DONNA BALANCIA
BEVERLY HILLS – A heaven’s full of blues performers were on hand at the Wallis Annenberg Center for an amazing tribute to the legendary blues great B.B. King.
The Life and Legacy of B.B. King, presented by The GRAMMY Foundation and The GRAMMY Museum, brought superstars of the blues together to honor B.B. King.
B.B. passed away May 14, 2015.
B.B. King: Mentor and Friend
B.B. was mentor and friend to all those on hand, including Slash, Keb’ Mo’, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks and Jimmy Vaughan.
“Oh he would have loved this,” B.B.’s pal and bandleader James Bolden said of the sold out event. “BB was very down to earth. He would appreciate that the blues are being recognized.”
The classy program, hosted by Scott Goldman, vice president of the GRAMMY Foundation, interspersed film clips of BB with remarkable performances by top names in blues and blues-rock music. Presented by The GRAMMY Foundation and The GRAMMY Museum, the production was smooth and effortless, and was a reflection of the man people came to honor.
Conan O’Brien’s Basic Cable Band, kept the beat led by Jimmy Vivino.
Each gave a few words about B.B., as teacher, friend and even would-be family member.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd showed a clip from his documentary 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads, in which he shares an “adoptive father” moment with B.B.
“B.B. was one of the most generous human beings I ever met,” Shepherd said. He added that the blues genre will survive as long as “people keep hearing it.”
Shepherd took the stage with his longtime frontman Noah Hunt, who commands one of the most underrated and superb voices in all of rock n roll.
The audience was blown away by the performance of this dynamic duo.
But the lucky 500 in the audience — the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is an amazing but relatively small venue — enjoyed mind blowing performances from all across the board on this night.
The Great Impact of B.B. King
Joe Louis Walker, whose radiant smile permeated the room, said he got to know BB as his opening act on the road.
“That’s how we got to know each other,” he said. “It was like having an uncle.”
Walker, who’s working on a new album for release next year, said B.B. impacted the music of so many artists over the years and still is loved by young artists of today like Gary Clark Jr. and the UK’s Joanne Shaw Taylor.
Jimmy Vaughan, ZZ Ward and Quinn Sullivan also gave tribute to B.B.
Slash, fresh off his Guns ‘N’ Roses tour, let his guitar do the talking, playing on a variety of B.B. tunes.
B.B. King’s Daughters
B.B.’s daughters were on hand, each more beautiful than the next, with great spirit and kind words.
“My father taught us to be independent,” Rita King said. “We knew another side of him, he was our father. The only difference was our father had a unique job and if we wanted to see him we went on the road.”
Rita said much of her father’s inspiration is included in her new book, “Messages From My Sister God is our Source and Supplier.”
All agreed the celebration was important for the preservation of The Blues.