B.B. King named his guitar Lucille, after a woman he encountered at a dance hall in Arkansas in 1949. King ran into the building to rescue his beloved guitar when it caught fire during a fight between two men that began over the woman. The next day, King asked the woman’s name and she replied “Lucille”. He decided to name his new guitar Lucille as a reminder never to do something like that again, so as not to risk losing it.
The Early Years of B.B. King’s Guitar
When he first began playing the guitar, legendary blues artist B.B. King had no intention of giving his instrument a name. However, as his career and love for music grew, so did the relationship between him and his guitar. By the mid-1960s, King named his beloved guitar Lucille in homage to a woman who inspired him to continue pursuing music after nearly losing it all.
Lucille became more than just an instrument – she was an integral part of King’s performance and life story. He originally purchased her from J.W Brown’s furniture store on Beale Street in Memphis for $30; however, it was a night at The Club DeLisa in Twist that ultimately gave her purpose: saving King’s life (and inspiring her namesake).
After someone allegedly spilled burning kerosene during an altercation between two patrons at the club one night, the building quickly caught fire. As chaos ensued amongst clubgoers, King managed to make it out unscathed but noticed something important left behind – his beloved $30 guitar. In spite of danger and common sense, he rushed back into The Club DeLisa to save Lucille amidst raging flames and toxic smoke filling the room – risking everything for a chance at redemption with his musical passion.
What’s in a Name: The Significance of Naming a Guitar
Naming something important is a powerful act, and when it comes to naming an iconic guitar like B.B. King’s beloved “Lucille”, the significance of that name can be even greater. Lucille was actually named after two women who were in a physical altercation at one of B.B.’S gigs back in 1949. The fight was over him, which caused the venue to catch fire and burn down. In order to remember this event, he gave his new Gibson ES-355 the same name as these two women: Lucille.
The powerful story behind the name highlights its importance – by honoring both those women and their fight for love, King gave his instrument an unforgettable title that evokes passion, intensity, emotion and tragedy all at once. It’s impossible not to think about the epic tale whenever you hear or see ‘Lucille’, making it an invaluable part of King’s life and legacy.
The idea of naming an instrument isn’t necessarily unique; musicians from all genres have honored friends, family members and idols with titular tributes throughout history as a way of preserving their memory forever through sound and music. What sets B.B.’S story apart is its incredible detail – it has become so legendary that anyone familiar with blues culture will recognize its symbolic power right away without having to ask what ‘Lucille’ means or where it came from.
B.B. King’s Inspiration for Naming His Guitar
Throughout his career, B.B. King has become renowned as one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time. His iconic instrument, Lucille, was named in honor of a traumatic incident he experienced at a dance hall in Arkansas in 1949. After an altercation broke out between two men that resulted in the venue catching on fire, B.B. King realized that both men were fighting over a woman called Lucille and it gave him reason to name his guitar after her to remind himself never to do anything so foolish again.
His legendary Gibson ES-355 semi-hollow body electric guitar became his most beloved instrument and went through multiple incarnations throughout its lifespan with B.B. King having numerous guitars made for him by the Gibson Guitar Corporation bearing this special moniker up until his death in 2015 when he played the very last concert of his life with “Lucille”.
The iconic musician’s signature style combined with unparalleled musicality earned him admiration from fellow musicians, fans and even rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix who once said “I have never heard anyone play like B.B.” Indeed, no other artist could capture what he did with Lucille – a remarkable feat which continues to stand today many years after its inception thanks to the timelessness of blues music itself and immortal memory of one man’s inspirational story behind it.
Lucille: From Humble Beginnings to Iconic Status
Lucille has come a long way from her humble beginnings. B.B. King, the legendary blues singer and guitarist, christened his guitar with this name after an incident at a dancehall in Twist, Arkansas in 1949. As the story goes, two men got into an altercation over a woman named Lucille. In their struggle, they knocked over several jugs of kerosene which set the building on fire. B.B. Having left his prized Gibson guitar inside, rushed back into the burning dancehall to save it and ever since referred to it as “Lucille” as a reminder never to do something so foolish again.
In later years, when asked about why he gave his guitar such an iconic name B.B responded “No matter where I go people know her name…I used to tell them that if you don’t treat me right then you’re gonna have to answer to Lucille” making light of his commitment to honor the memory of Lucille by being wise enough not to return back into any similar situations in future times.
The term “Lucille” soon gained fame amongst music lovers who could immediately relate it with B.B’s signature style of electric blues singing and playing; making sure no one forgot whose guitar they were hearing whenever they heard it echoing through stadiums or bars across America and beyond during live performances or recordings released onto radio airwaves everywhere around the world.
Legacy and Impact of Lucille on Music History
B.B. King’s iconic guitar, Lucille, is not just an instrument – it is a symbol of a music legend and the immense impact he has had on blues music history. For nearly 70 years, Lucille was an integral part of B.B.’S sound as it traveled with him around the world and took center stage in sold-out arenas and intimate jazz clubs alike.
The story behind the name Lucille is almost as legendary as the man himself: As King explained to NPR Music in 2007, he gave his Gibson ES-355 its name after two men got into a fight at one of his shows over a woman named Lucille and knocked over several kerosene lamps lighting up the dance floor. Despite being injured in the scuffle, King ran back onto the blazing dance floor to save his beloved guitar from being burned alive – thus inspiring its namesake title.
Over time, B.B.’S influence extended beyond just naming instruments; he played a pivotal role in popularizing electric blues throughout America and Europe during post-WWII era by touring tirelessly for decades before introducing his famous “3 O’Clock Blues” to mainstream audiences in 1956 – paving way for other African American artists like Muddy Waters or Jimi Hendrix to become superstars. Thanks to this trendsetting spirit, countless future generations have been inspired by B.B.’S unmistakable style and signature songwriting which continues to bring joy to listeners today – making Lucille one of most iconic guitars ever made.