Is B.B. King overrated?

It sounds like the same three or four guitar riffs played over and over. Am I just a hopeless in-sophisticate who can’t appreciate the genius behind it?

If you are you aren’t alone

I don’t think King is anymore overrated than, say, an Elvis. Elvis didn’t invent the songs he sang. He was a great showman. And in the right place at the right time.

King, to me, is merely the one who was lucky enough to get the popular attention in the blues world. That’s not to denigrate his great skills.

I like blues. And there are many performers I’d choose listen to other than King.

As for “the same three or four guitar riffs played over and over,” it worked for many a country/rock singer in the 1950’s-1980’s.

It’s all about the packaging.

I don’t think he’s overrated, but it all depends on how much you like blues. It’s not the most creative musical style there is – in fact, it can be rather limiting. Lots of classic blues songs sound like the same song . . . but if you ask me it’s a hell of a good song! :smiley:

Also, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing B.B. live, and let me tell you: he sounds even BETTER in person. I was also impressed at the audience he draws – all ages, from teens to old geezers, men and women, people of all colors . . . not too many musicians can appeal to such a wide variety of fans. But the man obviously loves what he does, and it shows when you see him play.

Elivis sucks, he ripped off orignals like BB.

He is immensely influential. He is one of the first musicians (quite possibly THE first musician) to use amplifier distortion, for instance.

I saw Mr. King (and Lucille :)) open for the Rolling Stones in 1971.
I thought his performance was heartfelt and powerful.
And “The Thrill Is Gone” is a masterpiece.

Nah. It’s just that Buddy Guy is underrated, so B.B. looks overrated in comparison.

When I fell like listening to a King in my blues collection, I’m more likely to grab Albert, or even Freddie.

No overrated in the slightest. One of the Giants. BB is underappriciated, if anything.

(His tour bus ran over my wife’s neighbor’s German Shepard, by the way)

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

Is B.B. the best bluesman of all time? IMO, that honor goes to Lighnin’ Hopkins, tho’ I’ve got to agree with Ukelele Ike that Buddy Guy is a helluva musician.

Is B.B. overrated? Definitely not. He’s a hell of a guitarist and a nuanced singer. Some people have mentioned “The Thrill is Gone,” but my favorite BB piece is “Nobody Loves Me” with its immortal line “Nobody loves me but my mother… and I think she’s jivin’ me.” The man is a genius.

Well I certainly mean no disrespect to Mr. King or his fans. It’s just that I had the opportunity to listen to a CD a few weeks ago and was left, well, somewhat disappointed.

So help me appreciate his music… what album should I buy of his?

Live at the Regal, or Live at Cook County Jail. Even I liked those two live albums, and I’m not a big fan of BB. I prefer Muddy Waters!

BB King has compared himself to a cook who only has three or four ingredients to work with when cooking. But he said he knows how to use those few ingredients very well and in interesting combinations.

That said, I respect the influence he has had, but so many people try to copy him that his style of playing has become the source of many cliches in a musical genre that can already be very limiting, as said earlier. I used to wonder if he was overrated also, I’ve figured out that my problem was not with him, but the people who praise him to the exclusion of other great bluesmen. My on real criticism of him is that he seems to only know one tempo to play at, of course that can be said of lots of musicians, not just King or blues players in general.

He’s not one of my favorites, I prefer John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson II, but that’s more a matter of personal taste

In my opinion, yes. I’m a big blues fan although I admit, I prefer the more rural country blues style artists. For the life of me I just can’t get into B.B.'s “uptown blues”.

I don’t hear the passion or the pain.

I admire the man for his stamina in the business but I am not a big fan. Gimme Muddy Waters anyday of the week brother!

First-order effect: music tastes are subjective.

Second-order effect: that’s even more true with blues.

That said:

  • Blues was originally a folk music, experienced live, passed along from one person to another. In that era, music wasn’t something you grimaced at, something bombarding you as you walked down the street – there was no music industry. It was a treat to hear music on a street corner.

  • Some of the greatest blues performers had basically two or three songs, which they played endless variations of, all night long – and people loved it! (They were good songs!)

  • Nobody can be fully captured from recordings.

  • Start demanding that blues performers crank out a record every couple of months, and you will tax their creative powers. This goes back to the dawn of recording.

  • The guitar may be the most expressive musical instrument in the history of the world, but it is much harder to express individuality on the electric. (IMO – YMMV).

  • In an era of mass media, with a live language like blues, no performer is influential after sufficient exposure – if you release enough records, and let people hear them long enough, audiences will start saying, “Geez, this guy’s a carbon copy of (some young kid you influenced)!”
    FINALLY: B.B. King is a great performer, if you have the chance to see him live, grab it. You will tell your grandkids about it.

FWIW, IMO, the greatest bluesman of all time:

CHARLEY PATTON (1891-1934)

Anybody who wins three Grammys, 69 years after his death, is a force of nature!