Sonny & Cher, Simon & Garfunkel, Page & Plant, Jagger & Richards, Lennon & McCartney, BB & Lucille all matches made in musical heaven! The only difference is that BB King’s other half is not a singing or writing partner…it is his trusty guitar. Every guitarist and blues enthusiast is aware of the love affair between King and his Gibson but not many know the story between the two. Lucille: A Love Story over 65 years in the making!
Meet His Happiness
On a winter day in Arkansas a guitarist on the rise named BB King played a local dance. A fight had broken out during the performance and a barrel or burning kerosene was spilt causing a large fire to spread across the room. Everyone including BB King escaped from the venue but he realized he’d left his $30 Gibson guitar behind!
The next day when he went to retrieve his guitar he learned that two people had passed away in the fire that had been caused by a fight over a lady named Lucille. That day he decided to rename his prized guitar after the woman who caused this tragic event to remind him to never do anything stupid like the events that took place that night.
The Electric Era
King switched from Acoustic to Electric that same year and recorded his first single, “Miss Martha King.” After toying around with some other “ladies” BB King got involved in a lifelong committed relationship with Gibson guitars in the early 1950’s. He tested the waters with a few Les Pauls & the ES series until he found the perfect fit, his lady love…the ES-355. In 1980, after the regular production of the ES-355 finished the very first Gibson “Lucille” Model was created.
The official Lucille model has evolved over the years. Today there are two models of the “Lucille” guitar available, the original ebony and gold ES-355 adorned with BB King’s name and crown and an Epiphone proudly displays the name of the lady the guitar is named after. For King’s 80th birthday, Gibson made 80 limited edition “80th Birthday Lucille’s” modeled after the one the created for the guitarist for his birthday.
It is hard to imagine the “King of the Blues” without his Maplewood counterpart but with the help of the hard working people of Gibson, I do not think we will ever have to!
What other guitarists have a legendary wooden counterpart? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook or send us a Tweet @tributapparel.