All posts tagged b.b.king

Watch Bonnie Raitt leave B.B. King in awe with a series of stunning slide solos at the House of Blues Chicago in 2004
King once said that Raitt was the “best damn slide player working today”

on March 8, 2023 No comments
By Jackson Maxwell

B.B. King, a man who knew a thing or two about blues guitar playing, once said that – in his view – Bonnie Raitt was the “best damn slide player working today.”

It’s an opinion few argued with at the time, and fewer still would take umbrage with today.

Raitt and King performed together on a number of occasions, one of which was the 2004 International Achievement Summit, which featured an evening concert at Chicago’s House of Blues headlined – in celebration of his induction into the Academy of Achievement (opens in new tab) – by King.

Mayor Daley, Bonnie, B.B. King and Mavis Staples at the celebration honoring B.B. King’s induction into the Academy of Achievement at House of Blues, Chicago. June 10, 2004 © Ricky Fataar

Raitt performed first on her own, before teaming up with King for a spirited rendition of When Love Comes to Town, a song U2 recorded with King for their 1988 album, Rattle and Hum.

Prior to starting the song, Raitt hits King – much to his delight – with some absolutely searing unaccompanied slide licks. “She loves to mistreat me like that,” King jokes with the crowd in response. “She knows I’m crazy about it!” 

You can see the video of the performance – which begins with Raitt performing her song, Love Sneakin’ Up on You on her own – below.


Armed with one of her signature Stratocasters, Raitt doesn’t stop with just the unaccompanied intro. Indeed, King – playing “Lucille,” his legendary Gibson ES-355 with no f-holes – seems more interested in listening to Raitt slide around the fretboard than in playing himself.

Though the cameras never get up close with Raitt, you can still get a great sense of her slide technique and how she – by wearing the guitar slide on her middle finger – switches seamlessly between rhythm and slide playing.

At various points, Raitt’s slide work causes King to egg the crowd into cheering her on mid-solo, and even – at one amusing point – get up out of his chair and dance.

“I taught myself to play, so my hand positions aren’t 100 percent correct – and I put the bottleneck on the wrong finger,” Raitt told Guitar World of her unique slide technique in a 2022 interview.

“You can play more if you have it on your ring finger. Fred McDowell used his little finger, but by then I was already down the road with it on my middle finger. I heard Robert Johnson and just tried to make myself sound exactly like whatever he was doing.”

King wasn’t the only electric guitar hero to be left slack-jawed by Raitt’s slide work. In a 2022 interview, Raitt revealed that none other than Prince asked her to teach him her technique.

Joe Bonamassa has also sung Raitt’s praises, naming her lead break on Thing Called Love (from Raitt’s 1989 album, Nick of Time) as one of the 10 greatest blues-rock guitar solos of all time.


“She plays slide, and you know it’s Bonnie Raitt and you just go, ‘How do you do that with a Stratocaster and a glass slide?’” Bonamassa told Guitar World in 2019.

“It’s because she just has a way of phrasing and it’s in the DNA and it’s intrinsic.”

“You hear what she does with this song, a John Hiatt song, and you go, ‘Wow, it’s just super-original.’ It’s very restrained, but super-effective.

“Then you put that voice on top of it and it’s just like, ‘Yes! That’s it!’ To me, Bonnie Raitt is one of the most underrated guitar players of all time.”

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Source: © Copyright Guitar World

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Bonnie Raitt Remembers B.B. King: ‘He Was a God’
Singer-songwriter remembers her long friendship with the blues legend

on May 16, 2015 No comments
By David Browne

Blues guitarist B.B. King passed away Thursday at the age of 89. Here, Bonnie Raitt pays tribute to her friend, collaborator and inspiration.

B.B. was a god from the first time we all heard him. You listen to those early recordings with that cry in his voice, even as a young man. I still have the 45 of “Rock Me Baby” that I wore out playing when I was a teenager. I used to sit there and play it and move the needle back to the beginning and play it over and over. It’s so sexy and the groove is hellacious. A lot of people have covered that song, but that’s my favorite version. Every great blues guitarist has his own style. But with B.B., it was about his vibrato, his phrasing and the licks he chose — and his restraint. It was all about what he played and what he didn’t play. He was sweet and eloquent in his playing, but when he turned it on, he could be fierce.

© David Corio/Redferns/Getty
© David Corio/Redferns/Getty

My manager worked with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, and B.B. was Buddy’s hero, so I got to go backstage and see B.B. when he was in and out of blues festivals. He was always very complimentary about my playing. He was always so gentle and humble and appreciative and he got a big kick out of the fact that all us young white kids got him. We became friends and later he would confide in me about his personal life and how he loved the ladies. To watch him backstage flirting with beautiful women was a delight. He loved his fans, but he enjoyed the company of kind and appreciative women. I always wished he’d had a steadfast and steady partner, but he was on the road so much. He could have retired years ago and cut his schedule back, but he told me he stayed on the road to be able to support his band and crew. He had a big band. I always wondered how he could afford it. He just worked all the time.

He was pretty happy, but I always wondered if he was a lonely guy. But I never asked him about that — I didn’t want to invade his space. He must have had some kind of pain in his life, but talk about overcoming whatever hardships he had.

When we recorded “Baby I Love You” [for the 1997 King duets album Deuces Wild], he had just played Dallas the night before and drove all night to get to the studio. He must have had two hours of sleep. But he was still such a champ. He was completely professional and said, “Whatever key you’d like.” He was so classy and so bold at the same time. He was an old-school Southern gentleman, but his playing was razor-sharp. I learned so much about dynamics from him.

Source: © Copyright Rolling Stone

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