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The Return Of ‘The King’ 

BB King plays The Paramount, Saturday, Oct. 19.

Are you ready for “The King”?

BB King, the reigning patriarch of the blues and a man considered be many to be among the greatest guitarists playing today, is coming to The Paramount. King, who came in at no. 6 on the 2011 edition of Rolling Stone magazine’s all time top-100 guitarists list, is returning to The Paramount for a second time, having played the Huntington concert venue in 2011. He’ll perform with a full band at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.

King’s first appearance at The Paramount came shortly after it first opened. He was perhaps the first living legend to play the newly opened venue.

Production manager Sean Early recalls, “We were still getting the hang of things.”

King’s manager had informed Paramount’s management that he play seated and would require a chair be on stage.

“I grabbed a chair at Bed Bath and Beyond the morning of the show,” Early said. “His drummer took one look and started laughing and said, ‘That won’t do.’”

And the hunt was on. Paramount co-owner Stephen Ubertini found the right chair around the corner at Classic Galleries, and with showtime approaching, carried the throne-like, leather-seated chair back to the concert hall.

King’s bum adequately cared for, the show went on.

For blues lovers, King needs no introduction. The man behind “Lucille” brings sterling creds. Born on a cotton plantation in the heart of Mississippi, he grew up singing gospel in the church choir. At age 12 he bought his first guitar and began a lifelong relationship that some would say is touched by the divine.

A relentless entertainer, King landed his first recording contract when he was 24 and in his prime was known for performing some 300 shows a year on the road.

His most famous, perhaps, revolved around a 1949 show in Twist, Arkansas in which a barrel of burning kerosene – used to heat the hall – was knocked over by two men fighting. As the hall went up in flames, King fled with everyone else, until realizing he had left his guitar inside. He ran back into the burning building to retrieve it.

The next day, King learned that the fight that sparked the fire was over a woman named Lucille. He named his guitar Lucille and every one he ever owned since as a reminder to never do anything so stupid again!

In a career spanning five decades of touring, nearly 40 albums and close to two-dozen Grammy awards, BB King played with the legends of the blues. But don’t let his age or pedigree fool you. As he approaches his 80s, he remains an entertainer to the bone, and eternally hip. He’s collaborated with Eric Clapton (Ridin’ With The King, 2000) and U2 (When Love Comes to Town), and still maintains a busy touring schedule.

The Paramount’s “famed” BB King chair is still around. One of Paramount’s managers, Kevin Doyle, perches regally at his desk, having co-opted the chair after King left the building. It will return to the stage next Saturday, Oct. 19, when BB King returns to The Paramount.

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