Friday, December 20, 2019

On This Day (1969): B.B. King “The Thrill Is Gone” charted

The Thrill Is Gone

B.B. King

Writer(s): Rick Darnell, Roy Hawkins (see lyrics here)

First Charted: December 20, 1969

Peak: 15 BB, 15 CB, 14 GR, 13 HR, 3 RB, 2 CL, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 225.54 video, 141.75 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Legendary blues singer and guitarist B.B. King was born Riley B. King on 9/16/1925 in Itta Beena, Mississippi. In 1946, he moved to Memphis where he learned guitar from Bukka White and Robert Lockwood, Jr. He first recorded for Bullet in 1949. He was nicknamed “The Beatle Street Blues Boy,” later shortened to “Blues Boy,” while working on a Memphis radio show from 1949 to 1950. RB

“His strong, emotionally expressive tenor was a powerful weapon from the start.” SS “If he were nothing but a blues singer, B.B. King would still rank among the all-time greats. But of course, he is also among the most influential blues guitarists who ever lived.” SS From 1951 to 1992, King reached the R&B charts 76 times, including four chart-toppers early in his career. He managed over thirty entries on the Billboard Hot 100. “The Thrill Is Gone” came two decades into his career and while he had a half dozen more successful R&B chart entries, it was his most successful pop hit.

“It became an across-the-board smash the likes of which blues hadn’t seen in years – and has not seen since.” SS Rock critic Dave Marsh speculated that it mibht be “the last great blues record.” DM “Its success boosted King to another level of the entertainment industry, as he soon became a familiar face on television and in concert halls around the world.” BH He was already the highest-earning blues artist in the country; now he was a living legend. SS

“The Thrill Is Gone” actually dates back to 1951 when the original version was recorded by California bluesman Roy Hawkins. It was “a very good, slow blues ballad accompanied by piano and mournful saxophone; nice, but not one for the ages.” SS In King’s hands, however, it became “a modern blues epic.” SS

“Produced and co-engineered with a contemporary edge by Bill Szymczyk (who later helped shape the sound of the Eagles), the session placed B.B. with a sympathetic crew of young New York studio musicians. The addition of tasteful strings enhanced rather than sugar-coated the song’s mood of sadness and loss.” BH Atop it all is King’s “magnificent growl of mingled rage and bereavement.” DM


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First posted 9/11/2023.

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