Since B.B. King passed away, worthy tributes have abounded. The great artist’s unique talent lives on. The blues are B.B. King and B.B. King is the blues.
But so do his contributions, especially one he called one of the greatest performances he ever gave, a visit to the notorious maximum security Sing Sing prison on Thanksgiving Day, 1972.
He chose to spend Thanksgiving inside to enrich those who so rarely are:
“Such a work of grace and connection,” a pastor friend of mine said when he sent me the link.
King did connect. He treated the men like men, joking with them just as he might have done in a barber shop or at a bar after a concert.
“Quite a few of you dudes have the blues already,” he said to roars of approval.
King was joined by Joan Baez and was introduced by sit-com star Jimmie Walker.
I’ve spent some bleak Thanksgiving Days in prison. This was one every inmate and all those who attended would surely remember as something to be very thankful for.
“There was a riot at Sing Sing prison, but it was a riot of music, emotion, enthusiasm and good feelings. What a day. What a concert!” wrote Jerry Oster of the New York Daily News.
King lived a long, talented artistic life. This is one gift he gave that will long live on.