B.B. King @ The Peabody, St. Louis, MO, April 4, 2014

B.B. King is 88 years old, and in his life, he’s played so many shows that even blues historians can only guess at an approximate total. In 1995, it was estimated he had played some 14,000 shows — at that point, he had been averaging 300 shows a year for 47 years. And that was nearly two decades ago! He’s slowed down since then, of course, but not much. Point is, B.B. King has surely been booed plenty in his time as a performer. But nothing like what happened Friday night in St. Louis. At the Peabody Opera House, King delivered a performance that, per Billboard, “included only a handful of complete songs amid musical snippets, long-winded soliloquies and a 15-minute sing-along of ’You Are My Sunshine’ with the house lights inexplicably up.” King was eventually booed badly by much of the audience.

In a review for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Daniel Durchholz wrote:

For a while, the audience was with him, laughing at his jokes and asides. But it was 45 minutes into the show before King performed anything resembling a song. Even then, his playing was shaky. He explained that he and the band had been off for two months, causing him to lose confidence.

After a capable run-through of “Rock Me Baby,” he played “You Are My Sunshine” and asked the crowd to sing along. The house lights came up and King began noticing individuals and waving to them. As the song went around again and again, nattering on for — and this is not a misprint — 15 minutes, audience members began to heckle, yelling out requests or simply calling for King to “play some music!” Some walked out.

King sensed trouble, but he couldn’t understand the things being yelled at him. Eventually, the music stopped and the show ground to an intensely uncomfortable halt.

It’s a brutal, heartbreaking spectacle. A fan captured the performance on video, which you can watch below.

Comments (64)
  1. I admit this show sounds like it was pretty rough, but booing BB King? If I did that I would feel unclean for weeks.


  3. Why would I click play on that? Reading it is sad enough.

  4. I had the chance to see him a few years back and he did tell a large amount of stories. But they’re stories from B.B. KING, so I gladly shut up and listened.

    • Exactly, I caught him at Bonnaroo in 08 and he was one of my highlights. I’m mean it was much better than this show obviously, but their are just certain artists you can appreciate a talk heavy set from. Of course I could a talk heavy set being disappointing to some people coming from anyone, but booing should be reserved for douchbaggery and BB King is very respectful to his audience.

  5. So…no Smash turns 20 article today?

  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  7. 15 minutes? that’s nothing…..i’ve listened to phish play Tweezer for 45 minutes, no problem!

  8. Remember when he was doing those Burger King commercials concurrently with the diabetes supplies commercials? Never have I applauded so heartily.

  9. I saw B.B. at NOLA Jazz Fest last year. I was so excited to see him, but his performance was really painful to watch. He had an hour long set, didn’t make it out onto the stage until about 15-20 minutes in, talked for another 10 minutes before playing his first note, and then only played three songs (he played parts of three songs, where he would play for about 30 seconds, pause and talk to the crowd, play another 30 seconds and then let his band take over). The man is a legend, and at 87 years old (at the time) he had already gone way beyond any expectations one could reasonably have for an artist, but it was still a depressing performance to say the least. Even so, anyone who could boo an 88 year old legend has no soul.

  10. How about Atlas Sound’s relentless and uncomfortable 20-minute cover My Sharona (in Minneapolis)? It was a spectacle to be in the audience, and everyone understood this. There was no booing. I cannot wrap my head around booing BB King. No matter the circumstances, you’re watching a performer (perform). What they choose to do should not be up to you.

  11. Anyone who booed at this concert should be removed from the gene pool. Take your negativity elsewhere. The man is a living legend. If you think BB King “owes” you something as a performer at this point, go away (preferably forever). This is without even mentioning the fact that there aren’t a lot of reasons you should ever be booing an 88 year old, let alone BB da gawd.

    • You might not feel that way if you payed $95 to see him play. Now that I know he is not worth It I will never do it again. He come out plays a couple of cords and flirts with the women in front row now these days. He got me 4 years ago but it will not happen again.

  12. poor guy geez. The man is 88 years old cut him a break. But this kind of breaks my heart a little seeing him perform like this :(

  13. Saw BB a few years ago in my home town. They rolled him out in wheel chair. He talked and talked and talked, he played a few songs that were just terrible. All out of tune and missing licks. BB has been turned in to a cash cow, really painful to see. I walked out disappointed and felt sorry for him. He needs to enjoying a retirement, his time is over. Hope they will not put him through that again.

  14. I feel like if you go see an 88 year old man play music, you shouldn’t go in expecting a particularly tight set.

    And I’m sure this was a really awful performance, but if you hate it, just go. Don’t boo a living legend. Do you really want to look back at the end of your life and say “One time, I boo’d BB King because he wasted about 30 minutes of my time.”

  15. B.B. King performing a 15 minute version of “You Are My Sunshine” is the stuff of legend, shit people will tell their children about. Where’s the beef?

  16. It is just in very bad taste to boo an 88 year old man. May someone disrespect you in your advanced years.

  17. I’ve heard his live shows are pretty terrible, and he gets away with it, because he’s BB King. Seems to me like he should give a full disclosure to people who actually payed money for something resembling a decent concert.

  18. BB King? Doesn’t matter if he got booed. When he’s done with playing music, people will be paying to see him get his ass wiped in the retirement home! He’s some kind of fascinating geriatric God…

  19. It would have been an honor to watch this man, good or bad. He is still BB King. For those who know him love him, for those who don’t we are sorry.

  20. That’s just sad, what the hell did these people expect? From what I’ve heard his performances have been like this for years so they really should have known going in what it was going to be like. Don’t show up at a BB King show and then boo an 88 year old man for not putting on a stellar musical performance. On the subject of these older blues players though, I have to mention that I saw Buddy Guy at Red Rocks last summer and that guy still fucking rocks. Like seriously, the guy has got to be closing in on 80 and he’s still a goddamn presence on the stage.

  21. His performances have been like this for 25+ year. Do your homework…watch is recent shows on you tube to gauge if this is for you. I was fortunate to see BB in the early 70′s when he was still a force and had a great band behind him. In 1974 I saw BB King and Freddie King on the same bill. Wow! The last time I saw BB was around 1985 and the long stories were not working for me. His LIFE has been the road and it’s hard for him to give it a rest. Listen to his recorded works…especially “LIVE AT THE REGAL”. He is the KING!!

  22. There was booing ?? WOW somebodt needs a fucking piss test, And oh by thye goddamn way he’s 88 fucks, Get a fucking clue, Most of you tards won’t see 88 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. I was there front row and it was really heart breaking to see. I saw him a few years back at the family arena in St. Charles and wow what a difference. As bad as the show was, there is no way i would have booed him. I pray that he will take the time to rest and enjoy the rest of his life.

  24. Booing an 88 year old performer who has done and seen things that ordinary people could never understand just proves how stupid people are.

  25. I watched the vid. Didn’t seem that bad for a musician who has outlived all but a handful of my living relatives. Expectations are way out of wack when you expect something more than this from an 88 year old musician. OWWWWOOOOOOOO!

  26. Until we have more advanced cyborgs… OWWWOOOOOOO!

  27. To RUBBER JOHNNEY….you are a idiot, you can’t pick your nose as good as that old man can play even at 88. You should kiss the ground he walks on you condesending jerk. Why don’t you go get your brain pierced or something.

  28. im finna start a petition to nuke St Louis. this guy is almost 90 years old. smfh.

    and looooooooooooooooooooooool at rub jon rustling everyones jimmies. that pic is like the first thing that comes up on google when u type in emo kid. The webs been around longer than a few years, my friends. relax, enjoy a nice cold coca-cola

  29. The internet, in one sentence…

    “It’s a brutal, heartbreaking spectacle…which you can watch below.”

  30. I saw Townes Van Zandt shortly before his death. The set/show was not good at all from a musical standpoint as he was pretty far gone. I remember being disappointed with the show afterwards. Fifgeen years later, though, I look back on it, and it’s one of the cooler things I can tell people whenever I talk music: “I saw Townes Van Zandt live.”

  31. Cut him a break, he is the man

  32. I was reading the comments made concerning B B King’s performance in St. Louis! I can’t believe the comments. here is a man who has entertained us for decades and now that he is 88 everyone is expecting him to be the same? HELLO! Firstly, no one should have expected him to perform as he once did. And to walk out is a sad way to be! If you are a fan, remain a fan especially at his age. He always brought us joy, remember that! People are always ready to snatch you off your status. But I say: Your time is coming…

  33. I have seen B.B. King in his prime during the 1980s and a couple times the past couple years. Sadly, his shows have become a former shadow of what they once were, and everyone else I know has the same opinion. There was a time when his band played a couple hot tunes and then would be joined by King for a great show. Now, they play a couple hot tunes, and then King comes out, sits in a chair and mostly prattles on for the rest of the show. He plays at most 5 minutes of guitar and prevents the backing band from stretching its legs and entertaining the crowd by having to back his banter at a very slow pace, which is mildly amusing at first and then gets old very fast. Unfortunately, “You Are My Sunshine” now is a standard song during every performance, and it pretty much sucks.

    Fortunately, King did not headline either show at which I saw him. Tedeschi-Trucks Band was the headliner at one show, and was fantastic. The other show was Peter Frampton’s “Guitar Circus” with B.B. King opening. He mostly repeated his now worn-out act of sitting down and talking through pretty much the entire affair. Seeing him as a headliner no longer is worth the money, particularly in this economy and for what most places now charge for tickets. Unlike Les Paul, Kenny Burrell and other guitar greats who played well into their senior years, B.B. King just can’t do it anymore. In so many ways, The Thrill Is Gone. I’m not surprised he got booed. It’s not like he’s playing free shows.

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