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The reigning king of blues, the legendary B.B. King, has launched an extensive U.S. tour schedule and it started in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. The 2007 tour will include 150 scheduled stops including a Sept 5 date in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl.
This year, King celebrates his 60th year on the road and for the first time he'll perform with two other legends July 24 playing with Al Green and Etta James. Fans will also be excited to know that King is not only touring, but will begin recording a new album in July with T-Bone Burnett producing. It's slated for release in early 2008.
King will be 82 years old September 16th and his tour will include both one and two night shows and will continue through the end of the year. He commented, “It's the way I make a living. Blues players don't get our records played every day. The only stations I know that do play blues are the two satellite (radio) stations, but they also play other music. I found a long time ago that traveling from city to city, we were able to get publicity that we don't usually get. After we've gone to whatever city, our record sales go up, and we get more letters and cards. Then when we go back, it's a better crowd than next time.”
Although King is still very busy he has slowed down quite a bit. “I promised myself sometime back that I would cut down on my working," King said. "Now we work two to three weeks and take off a couple of weeks.” King averages 100 to 150 shows per year and his shows last 1 _ to 2 hours each. He remembers doing as many as 342 one-night performances at one point in his career. He primarily travels in a mobile home with a second bus for his band members. Most of the members have been with him at least 12 years.
King still appreciates his loyal fan base that may encourage others to become fans. “I still look some nights for it to be just me and the promoter," King said. "You can't ever depend that everyone there is really there to see you. I'd say 40 percent are true fans and 60 percent are there because they're with friends. So you hope if you're good that night that maybe 20 percent of them will become fans next time.”
Look out for a concert DVD King filmed at his clubs in Nashville and Memphis that will be released later this year. Also one of his previous albums entitled, “Live at the Regal” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Recently, B.B. King received an honorary doctor of music degree at Brown University. In accepting the honor, he took the microphone to serenade the graduating class. The 2,000 graduating students responded by giving the King a standing ovation.