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Lucille

Lucille

A lot of you wanna know why I call the guitar, Lucille
Lucille has practically saved my life two, three times
No kidding, really has

I remember once I was in an automobile accident
And when the car stopped turnin’ over, it fell over on Lucille
And it held it up off of me, really, it held it up off of me
So that’s one time it saved my life

The way, the way, I, uh, I came by the name of Lucille
I was over in Twist, Arkansas, I know you never heard of that
But happened and one night, the guys started a ball over there
You know started brawlin’, you know what I mean

And the guy that was mad with this old lady
When she fell over on this gas tank that was burnin’ for heat
The gas ran all over the floor and when the gas ran all over the floor
The building caught on fire and almost burned me up
Tryin’ to save Lucille

Uh, oh, I, I imagine you’re still wondering why I call it Lucille
The lady that started the brawl that night was named Lucille
And that’s been Lucille ever since to me

Lucille, B.B. King

I met B.B. King a number of years ago. I was traveling out of Atlanta. We were both in the lounge waiting for our flight. With a common interest in guitars, it wasn’t hard to pass the time away. He told me the story behind the name he gave to his guitars. It is a story that has been told many times but it was the first time that I had heard it. And I heard it from B.B. King.

B.B. King was a young man, in his early 20s. He was playing a nightclub in Twist, Arkansas. It was winter and it was very cold. To heat the nightclub, a large container was placed in the middle of the dance floor, half filled with kerosene. The kerosene was lit to provide heat. On that particular night, a fight broke out, and the pail was knocked over. The nightclub was set on fire. Everyone started running out of the club, including B.B. King.

When he got outside, he realized that he had left his guitar behind. He went back in to retrieve the guitar even as the building started to fall around him.

The two men that were fighting that night died in the fire. The fight had been triggered over a woman who worked at the club.

Her name was Lucille.

After that fire, B.B. King decided to name his guitars Lucille.

B.B. King was also a man of faith.

He attended Elkhorn Baptist Church and he was a student at Elkhorn School, affiliated with the church. He told me that a teacher at that school had a major impact on his life. I found out later that the teacher’s name was Luther Henson. Luther died in 2001 at the age of 101. Luther taught B.B. King that hard work, tenacity and faith were the most important things to have in a person’s character.

I keep one of B.B. King’s quotes about musical talent close to my heart: all musical talent comes from God as a way to express beauty and human emotion.

B.B. King died last week. He was 89.