B.B. King

B.B. King Remembered in Bay Area Concert Recordings

IMG_1720BBKing 722
Dan Chusid

The Bay Area was a frequent tour stop for the late B.B. King, who developed an ardent fanbase that supported him throughout the decades.

According to Setlist.FM, King played in the Bay Area at least as early as Christmas Night, 1954, at the Civic Auditorium in Oakland. He was a repeat performer at San Francisco's Fillmore West and Winterland venues in the late '60s and early '70s. Four of those concerts are available for streaming online at Concert Vault, but the site reserves its greatest superlatives for this June 1968 Winterland performance: "Many consider B. B. King's 1964 album, 'Live at the Regal,' to be one of the greatest pure blues recordings of all time. The man himself has disputed this adulation over the years, stating that his abilities improved considerably over the next few years. Indeed, these June 1968 Winterland concerts go a long way toward justifying his claims, capturing the bluesman at the peak of his considerable powers."

King played several shows at San Carlos's Circle Star, a theater in the round with a rotating stage, from the early 1980s until the venue's closure in 1993. A sound recording of his appearance with guitarist Albert King (no relation) in 1991 has been shared as a video on YouTube:

King's most widely shared and remembered appearance in the Bay Area took place behind prison walls, a 1990 concert at San Quentin that was recorded for a live album.

The endearing final moments of B.B. King's last Bay Area appearance, which took place in August 2014 at the Warfield in San Francisco, were captured on video and shared on YouTube. Even when dressed in his hat and overcoat, King didn't look like he wanted to leave the stage:

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us