B.B. King Plays “The Thrill is Gone” with Slash, Ron Wood & Other Legends

How many gen­er­a­tions of gui­tarists have come and gone since B.B. King emerged on the Beale Street blues scene in the late 1940s?

60s blues-rock giants, 70s hard rock­ers, 80s met­al shred­ders… at least two gen­er­a­tions between B.B. and Slash, who is prob­a­bly him­self a gui­tar grand­fa­ther by now. Whether they know it or not, every rock and blues play­er descends from the Kings of the blues (B.B., Albert, Fred­die, and gui­tarists who bore the title but not the sur­name). Slash knows it well.

We have three gen­er­a­tions of gui­tar greats, and Sim­ply Red’s Mick Huck­nall, join­ing an 86-year-old King in the live per­for­mance above from 2011 at Roy­al Albert Hall with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, the Rolling Stones’ Ron Wood, and Slash, who sits next to the great man and lends him his top hat for a few bars.

The Guns n Ros­es lead gui­tarist named B.B. his favorite blues­man when King died in 2015 and put “The Thrill is Gone” in an ulti­mate gui­tar mix he com­piled for Q mag­a­zine in 2004. At the live jam ses­sion above, he gets to play it with his hero, “the only hit I ever had,” says King by way of self-dep­re­cat­ing intro­duc­tion.

Slash keeps a low pro­file, fit­ting him­self into the mix of six gui­tars onstage (see the longer jam ses­sion fur­ther up). Anoth­er gui­tarist, John May­er, maybe three gen­er­a­tions of play­ers removed from King, got to spread out a bit more in his jam with B.B. at the Gui­tar Cen­ter King of the Blues event in 2006. “It’s like steal­ing some­thing from some­one right in front of them,” he says. It’s a good joke, and it’s the truth.

Musi­cians have been fol­low­ing in B.B. King’s wake for over 60 years now. The best learn the same hum­bling les­son U2’s Bono did after his 1988 duet with King on “When Love Comes to Town” — “We had learned and absorbed, but the more we tried to be like B.B., the less con­vinc­ing we were.” See more of King and May­er just below.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

B.B. King Plays Live at Sing Sing Prison in One of His Great­est Per­for­mances (1972)

B.B. King Explains in an Ani­mat­ed Video Whether You Need to Endure Hard­ship to Play the Blues

How B.B. King & Ste­vie Ray Vaugh­an Dealt With Break­ing Strings Onstage Mid-Song: A Mas­ter­class in Han­dling Onstage Mishaps

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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