B.B. King: Lucille Speaks
Perhaps B.B. King’s most identifiable trademark is his guitar Lucille. Lucille has been with B.B. since 1949. The story has been told many times before, but for those of you not familiar with the details, here it is …
Back in the late 1940’s when B.B.’s career was in its infancy, one of his stops on the road was in Twist, Arkansas. It used to get quite cold in Twist in the evenings, and in order to keep the dance hall warm, kerosene was used for heat. A large barrel was placed in the center of the room and was filled about half way up with the fuel. The kerosene was then lighted to heat the room, a practice which was not uncommon in those days.
One cold night in 1949, two men started fighting and knocked over the barrel of burning kerosene. The burning fuel spilled over the floor like a river of fire. Every one, including B.B., ran out the front door. Once outside, B.B. realized that he left his guitar, a Gibson acoustic, inside the inferno. He went back inside the collapsing building to save his guitar, almost losing his life in the process. The blaze that night claimed two fatalities.
The next morning, B.B. discovered why the two men were fighting the night before. It seems as though they were fighting over a lady, and although he never met the woman, B.B. learned her name was Lucille. B.B. named that guitar Lucille, and also every guitar he has owned since that night, “to remind me never to do a thing like that again.” www.worldblues.com