Tonight @ M&I Classic Rock Stage, Summerfest, 9 p.m.
Jun. 27, 2010
Few would argue the notion that B.B. King is the greatest living blues guitarist, a claim that he will once again prove when he takes the M&I Classic Rock Stage tonight. But there would be no legend without Lucille, his beloved Gibson guitar, the most recent iteration of which is actually named the B.B. King Lucille model. And there would be no Lucille without that Arkansas fire. It was 1949 and King, who earned the moniker “Beale Street Blues Boy,” or B.B., thanks to his Memphis R&B radio show, was performing at a dance hall in Twist, Ark. It was a cold night and the proprietors lit a barrel half-full of kerosene to heat the room. Two men got into a fight and knocked over the barrel, setting the hall on fire. King ran out with the crowd, but then realized he left his $30 Gibson acoustic guitar behind and went back for it. The next day, King learned the men had been fighting over a woman named Lucille, and she became the musician’s muse. The original Lucille is long gone, but each subsequent guitar has taken on the same name. It’s a reminder, King has said, to never again do anything as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over a woman.