Clip | B.B. King: The Life of Riley - King’s Distinctive Guitar Playing

See and hear B.B. King in performance while musicians share the same response to the King of the Blues’ artistry: they know it’s B.B. King playing by hearing just one note of his guitar. This film excerpt includes commentary by Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, John Mayall, Bobby Bland, Bruce Willis, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Cray, Derek Trucks, Johnny Lang and Carlos Santana.

Eric Clapton elaborates, “The character of any great musician is usually identifiable by the individuality of their vibrato.”

Santana takes the observation one step further, saying, “I can hear B.B. King with the sound off on the TV, just by looking at his face.”

Transcript Print

♪♪ CLAPTON: The character of any great musician is usually identifiable by the individuality of their vibrato.

♪♪ Most players are recognizable by that particular facet of their playing, and that's how I would know B.B.'s playing.

Hit one note -- I can tell B.B. from one note.

You know, most of us can, I think.

TAYLOR: I'd say that's true, yeah.

I mean, his sound is completely unique to him.

MAYALL: If you can just play one note and somebody else can say -- recognize who that is.

BLAND: One note, you know that's him and Lucille.

WILLIS: He can take one note and make it so sexy.

CLAPTON: One note, you know, is all it takes.

BONAMASSA: The note with the vibrato.

-CRAY: One note. -TRUCKS: One note.

LANG: In one note.

♪♪ SANTANA: That note is not in the amplifier and it's not -- It's not even at his fingers.

It's coming from the center of his heart.

You know, I can hear B.B. King with the sound off on the TV, just by looking at his face.

♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ]