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

by B. B. King, David Ritz
 

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“A treasure trove of information…told with real feeling.” —Washington Post Book World

“Charming...honest...transcendent…. It reads like a warm and lengthy conversation with a close friend.” —Billboard

The undisputed king of the blues, B.B. King puts his life into words in a story that spans tragedy,

Overview

“A treasure trove of information…told with real feeling.” —Washington Post Book World

“Charming...honest...transcendent…. It reads like a warm and lengthy conversation with a close friend.” —Billboard

The undisputed king of the blues, B.B. King puts his life into words in a story that spans tragedy, triumph, and everything in between—and he tells it just how he plays it, straight from the heart. A true-to-life tale of overcoming monumental odds to succeed as an artist in an often unfriendly world, Blues All Around Me is also the story of how blues music changed during its migration from the Mississippi Delta to urban areas such as Chicago. Rolling Stone calls B.B.’s memoir a “very American success story [told] with the lyricism and leisurely pace of a born storyteller.”

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.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The King of the Blues surveys his life and 50-year career. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The long-awaited autobiography.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062061034
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/08/2011
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
151,532
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.98(d)

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.

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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