The late B.B. King’s connection to Chattanooga
Guitar enthusiasts like WDEF engineer Mark Dunn say King gave a memorable performance when he came to Chattanooga back in 1989.
"I went as a young guitar player so I really wanted to listen to his guitar play and focus on that. But what I was blown away with was when he sang, it was literally like you were getting punched in the chest; the power off this guy was just amazing," Dunn said.
Former Chattanooga police officer turned radio DJ, Donut Williams may be one of King’s biggest fans.
"I’ve seen him perform all over the South; Atlanta, Nashville; if he’s close by, I’m going to be there," Williams said.
Williams told WDEF he once worked security for B.B. King when King came to town.
"A lot of the stars like to go down on big 9; 9th street to eat. We carried him down there to a place to eat. They had those chopped wings down there and stuff like that."
Many of B.B. King’s legendary live performances happened during various Riverbend concerts.
"The coolest thing about him was that he played at 5-nights in Chattanooga which was our predecessors to Riverbend. In 1981 he played here; then in the early 90’s he played and when he came, they didn’t even do a sound check. They got here five minutes before the show; checked things real quickly and boom they were playing," said Friends of the Festival Executive Director Chip Baker.
One of King’s most recognizable songs is called "The Thrill is Gone." Ironically, that’s the way many of his fans feel after learning about his death.