April 1998

Richard Kostelanetz
The B. B. King Companion: Five Decades of Commentary

Ranging from two to 32 pages, these interviews, profiles and analyses give a rather complete portrait of the world’s best-known bluesman. It’s hard, though, to figure out for whom this book is written...and why, for, during the course of at least three of the seven interviews (which span the years 1967-95) King’s background, nickname, favorite guitarists, etc. crop up so often that my eyes started to glaze over.

Two of the more interesting pieces are Michael Lydon’s description of a 1968 tour of the South during which King’s band is attacked by whites in a Baton Rouge cafe, and in Tom Wheeler’s 1980 interview when, asked about racial prejudice “in the early years” of show business, King retorts, “In the early years—you mean right now?” Charles Sawyer, who wrote King’s 1980 biography, closes with a look at King’s legacy and his future which—and this is good news for blues fans everywhere—looks bright. A budget-model, 33-page discography is included.

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