Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Opinion: Those Who Heckle B.B. King Suffer from Correctile Dysfunction

The cover of B. B. King's live album, Now Appearing at Ole Miss, released in 1980.
The cover of B. B. King’s live album, Now Appearing at Ole Miss, released in 1980.

I just read that audience members at a B. B. King concert in St. Louis heckled the man. Here’s my open letter to the hecklers.
You suffer from correctile dysfunction. Please get correct.
B. B. King is 88 years old. Like Wilford Brimley and many others, he has diabetes. He is a legend, and while I’m not of the opinion generally that a legend should rest on his laurels, at a certain age, audiences should expect that they are paying to bask in the glow of someone who has at some point made them very happy and not necessarily to hear the artist burn the house down like it’s 1965.
So, you say you paid a lot of money to see him, and it was the first time you’ve seen him? See above: He’s 88 years old. What did you expect? There are albums and albums of him playing in his prime. But if you go see him live you are going (or should be going) for one reason only: To say you saw him live before he died. I don’t mean to be morbid, but you should be going to pay your respects to B. B. FRIGGIN’ KING. I do understand the view that if the music’s not there, what’s the point. If that’s your view, DON’T GO.
Be thankful you even get to see him on a stage, ungrateful youth. I say “youth” because any actual B. B. King who has attended his shows for the last 20 years would have known to expect a laid-back show with B. B. playing sparingly. To yell, “Play some music!” at B. B. at this age would be like yelling, “Weigh 140 pounds!” at Elvis circa 1977. Yeah, I realize it’s a music concert. But perhaps the better analogy, and I don’t mean to indicate B. B.’s going to leave us anytime soon necessarily, is that it’s like you got the privilege of visiting your beloved, elderly, still-living grandmother, who wanted to tell you stories about her life or otherwise just chat with you, and you yelled, “Shut up and make those blueberry waffles I always loved!” I hope when you get too old to contribute something useful to people that you won’t be heckled and left to rot.
Tip: I hear Garth Brooks is going on tour again. Maybe you should show up and yell, “Jump off the drum riser during an explosion, with a crazed cornball look on your face, in a hideous shirt!” He’s only probably in his 50s, so maybe he can still meet your expectations.
— Tad Wilkes,