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BB King Live at the Regal

For One Night Only, Series 6 Episode 2 of 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 26 March 2011

Paul Gambaccini is back with the award-winning series that re-visits the occasions on which a classic live album was recorded. He hears from those who were there, on-stage, backstage and in the audience, to re-create the event for all of us who, each time we play the album, think: 'If only I could have been there'.

On 21 November 1964 what's been hailed as one of the greatest blues albums of all time was recorded at Chicago's premier black theatre, The Regal. It's claimed, that musicians from Eric Clapton to John Mayer still play it for inspiration before they go on stage.

If BB's studio sessions were electric, it was on stage that he really came into his own. Yet, at a time when live albums were becoming the thing, BB had yet to record one. Enter Johnny Pate, A&R man for ABC Paramount, the label that had recently signed Riley B King.

On the night, Chicago DJs Pervis Spann and E Rodney Jones introduced the sets and the enthusiastic audience erupted as BB and his band treated them to a classic performance.

Paul Gambaccini listens to memories of that never-to-be-forgotten night from BB King himself and from the sole surviving member of his band, Duke Jethro. Jethro's usual instrument, the HammondB3 Organ, was in the repair shop so he had to play, for the first time in his life, a piano. Yet his tinkling riffs are one of the album's major charms.

Paul also hears from the album's producer, Johnny Pate, from WVON DJ Pervis Spann, and from Arthur Gathings, who was in the audience.

Producer: Marya Burgess.

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