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B.B. King Casually Changes His Guitar String Onstage Without Stopping the Song

Here's a very cool video of the late B.B. King performing “How Blue Can You Get” at Farm Aid on September 22, 1985.

What makes this performance so special is what happens about three and a half minutes in. King breaks a string on his guitar and changes it himself—onstage—while he continues performing the song.

All the strings are still clearly attached to the guitar at the three-minute mark. The video then cuts to a shot of the horn players, and when it returns to B.B., the highest string is dangling from his headstock.

At around 3:12 you can see a roadie in a blue cap running behind the band; a few seconds later he hands a replacement string to King. After nonchalantly removing the broken string, King winds the new one as he sings up a storm.

This is pure showmanship and professionalism in action. It's one more reason the guitarist is so dearly missed.

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Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.