For me, being a B.B. King fan goes back to the late ’50s. I heard him on an R&B station in the Los Angeles area. I remember the name just stood out: those two Bs…and King, which sounded so authoritative and regal.
I forget the song that I heard. It was that guitar coming through the little AM radio at the time. It was powerful. I was probably 11 or 12. The signal was hard to get. It was the only station at that time in the L.A. area pumping out R&B and soul music.
King is one of the last Delta blues men alive, playing that indigenous form of American music. I’ve even followed other people in blues because of him. When I hear his guitar, it’s the sweetest thing. You know the truths and the lies of his travels throughout his life. I get a soulful feeling when I hear him.
He’s 83 or 84, something like that. I’ve seen him live many times. The first time, I was overwhelmed. It was in L.A. in the ’60s, at the Shrine Auditorium for some blues festival.
[His career is] even more profound for me because I found out he was a radio disc jockey in Memphis before he became a popular musician. His whole career and situation, it was almost as if he was a mentor to me. And it’s what made me want to get into radio.
Fortunately, I was able to reach that dream. And in my career, I made it to KGFJ, that station in L.A. that I first heard B.B. King coming over the airwaves.
I’ve met King backstage and said hello. Always short conversations. I’ve never had a chance to interview him or talk to him the way I’d like. He’s too busy on the road and always doing something.
DJ: Ron Dhanifu
Station: Jazz 88.3 FM
Shift: 1:00–4:00 p.m., Monday–Friday
B.B. King plays the Belly Up Tavern on Sunday, November 22.