The “Beale Street Blues Boy” was young Riley King‘s handle as a deejay on Memphis radio station WDIA, which was shortened to “BB“thereafter.Mr. King’s body traveled down Beale one last time, and the turnout to pay respect is shown below. As the sincere and most well-deserved tributes to B.B.King continue to pour in, along with the seemingly endless photos of him with other musicians, media types, and fans posted online ( he must have been one of the most photographed entertainers of our time ), I could not help drawing parallels from a 2013 PBS television interview with Mr.King by Tavis Smiley with the last televised conversation with the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham. Both men, giants in their respective fields to which they dedicated the whole of their lives, surprised their respective interviewers by confessing publicly, without a micro-gram of false modesty, that they regretted not doing more in service to others during their long lives.
In the case of the Reverend Dr. Graham, he claimed regret at not doing even more of God’s work for people. As for Riley B. King, the gentle giant of the Blues confessed regret at not doing more for advancing civil rights in America. B.B. told Smiley that Mr. King, born a Mississippi sharecropper’s son, had lived long enough to see and reap the benefits from the sacrifices and steadfast efforts of those in the Civil Rights movement who dedicated their lives to establishing true equality for all Americans, and that Mr. King felt that he could have, and should have, done more.