Blues All around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King

Overview

B. B. King has the blues running through his blood.

Growing up in the rural poverty of the Mississippi Delta, King first experienced the blues at nine years old, when his mother passed away. The man of the house before the end of his first decade, he used this strife as a source of inspiration and launched one of the most celebrated musical careers in American history.

King has led a remarkable life, and this riveting autobiography dramatizes ...

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Overview

B. B. King has the blues running through his blood.

Growing up in the rural poverty of the Mississippi Delta, King first experienced the blues at nine years old, when his mother passed away. The man of the house before the end of his first decade, he used this strife as a source of inspiration and launched one of the most celebrated musical careers in American history.

King has led a remarkable life, and this riveting autobiography dramatizes his whirlwind adventures from the Memphis of the forties to the Moscow of the nineties with unflinching candor and sincerity. But most of all, B.B.'s story is the story of the blues—the evolution from country acoustic to urban electric, the birth and explosion of rock 'n' roll—and B.B.'s own long, but ultimately triumphant, struggle for crossover success, during which he remained unwaveringly true to the music of his heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Billboard
“Charming...honest...transcendent...an eloquent autobiography...It reads like a warm and lengthy conversation with a closefriend. Aficionados of the blues will find plenty to pique their interest, but the book truly shines because of the portrait itpaints of a man who has made kindness and respect a lifelong philosophy.”
Washinton Post Book World
“B.B. King is the preeminent living practioner of the blues…Blues All Around Me is a treasure trove of informatino…told with real feeling”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“An excellent musical life…dotted with encounters from everyone from Sonny Boy Williamson and Miles Davis to Stevie Ray Vaughn”
Houston Chronicle
“Candid…heartbreaking…deceptively and disarmingly casual and controversial…King’s book is as self-questioningly honest as any blues song.”
Vibe
“B.B.’s life and 50-year career is a precious piece of American history that no one could have told better—except maybe Lucille.”
Austin American-Statesman
“An amazing success story…an eminently entertaining tale of a true American hero.”
Buzz
“For almost 50 years, King has let his guitar, Lucille, do the talking. Now the celebrated bluesman tells his own gutsy story.”
Seattle Times
“A classy book from a classy man…straightforward, frank, unaffected, and breezy, with many funny, insightful stories and anecdotes.”
Rolling Stone
“King tells his very American success story with the lyricism and leisurely pace of a born storyteller…with warmth and sincerity.”
Booklist
“This is one of the best recent pop-music bios. King speaks straight from the soul, it seems, just like he plays guitar.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Excellent...provocative...King comes off in print not unlike he does in his music: warm and polite, down gome and sophisticated, expressive and tasteful.”
USA Today
“The thrill is never gone.”
Buzz
“For almost 50 years, King has let his guitar, Lucille, do the talking. Now the celebrated bluesman tells his own gutsy story.”
Billboard
“Charming...honest...transcendent...an eloquent autobiography...It reads like a warm and lengthy conversation with a closefriend. Aficionados of the blues will find plenty to pique their interest, but the book truly shines because of the portrait itpaints of a man who has made kindness and respect a lifelong philosophy.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The King of the Blues surveys his life and 50-year career. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The long-awaited autobiography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062061034
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 284,618
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

B. B. King's numerous honors include an honorary doctorate from Yale University, a Presidential Medal of the Arts, and fifteen Grammy Awards. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame, and has more than ninety albums and anthologies to his credit. At age eighty-four, he is still on the road, touring the world.

David Ritz is the author of the acclaimed novels The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn and Blue Notes Under a Green Felt Hat. He is the only four-time winner of the Gleason Book of the Year Award. He's also co-written the memoirs of many celebrities.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Memory of the Heart



I struggle with words. Never could express myself the way I wanted. My mind fights my mouth, and thoughts get stuck in my throat. Sometimes they stay stuck for seconds or even minutes. Some thoughts stay for years; some have stayed hidden all my life. As a child, I stuttered. What was inside couldn't get out. I'm still not real fluent. I don't know a lot of good words. If I were wrongfully accused of a crime, I'd have a tough time explaining my innocence. I'd stammer and stumble and choke up until the judge would throw me in jail. Words aren't my friends. Music is. Sounds, notes, rhythms. I talk through music. Maybe that's why I became a loner, someone who loves privacy and doesn't reveal himself too easily.

My friendliness might fool you. Come into my dressing room and I'll shake your hand, pose for a picture, make polite small talk. I'll be as nice as I can, hoping you'll be nice to me. I'm genuinely happy to meet you and exchange a little warmth.

I have pleasant acquaintances with thousands of people the world over. But few, if any, really know me. And that includes my own family. It's not that they don't want to; it's because I keep my feelings to myself. If you hurt me, chances are I won't tell you. I'll just move on. Moving on is my method of healing my hurt and, man, I've been moving on all my life.

Now it's time to stop. This book is a place for me to pause and look back at who I was and what I became. As I write, I'm seventy years old, and all the joy and hurts, small and large, that I've stored up inside me ... well, I want to pull 'em out and put 'em on the page. When I'vebeen described on other people's pages, I don't recognize myself. in my mind, no one has painted the real me. Writers have done their best, but writers have missed the nitty-gritty. Maybe because I've hidden myself, maybe because I'm not an easy guy to understand. Either way, I want to open up and leave a true account of who I am.

When it comes to my own life, others may know the cold facts better than me. Scholars have told me to my face that I'm mixed up. I smile but don't argue. Truth is, cold facts don't tell the whole story. Reading this, some may accuse me of remembering wrong. That's okay, because I'm not writing a coldblooded history. I'm writing a memory of my heart. That's the truth I'm after-following my feelings, no matter where they lead. I want to try to understand myself, hoping that you-my family, my friends, my fans-will understand me as well.

This is a blues story. The blues are a simple music, and I'm a simple man. But the blues aren't a science; the blues can't be broken down like mathematics. The blues are a mystery, and mysteries are never as simple as they look.

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Table of Contents

1 Memory of the Heart 1

2 Her Words are Music 3

3 Heavenly Music 15

4 Dawn 29

5 "You All Right, Jack?" 45

6 King Cotton 57

7 Dream Machine 71

8 War and Peace 81

9 A City is Like a Woman 97

10 Why I Love Arthur Godfrey 109

11 Faith is Patience 121

12 Chili, Crackers, and a Big Ol' Belly Washer 133

13 Doing the "Do" 143

14 Who Can Explain Love? 155

15 Lousy Leader 167

16 Where Was I When Rhythm and Blues Became Rock 'n' Roll? 181

17 "The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest" 193

18 Forget Regrets 205

19 "Did You Read What John Lennon Said?" 215

20 How Do You Lose a Bus? How Do You Lose a Wife? 227

21 Vision 235

22 Someone Asked Me About Oral Sex 245

23 There's Something About Being in Prison 257

24 Luck is a Lady 265

25 Circumcision is No Laughing Matter 275

26 Indianola Sunset 283

Being with B David Ritz 299

Selected Discography 315

Awards 319

Index 327

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2005

    BB is de bomb

    When I read this book, it was wonderful. It felt like BB was speaking directly to me. This was a great read. Well worth it, I highly recommend it to anyone fascinated by the King.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2001

    great book

    This book is great. It is really interesting to see the background of blues music. It was interesting to hear his background almost as if he was talking to you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000

    This book is great insight to the life of B.B. King

    I don't read many books but this book was great. It wasn't like all of the other auyobiographies that I've read. This is more like a story than a book of facts.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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