“When I play the trill with my finger, my hand is not on the neck at all. It all comes from the wrist”: The story of B.B. King, the greatest blues guitar player of all time

B.B. King
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

The man born Riley B. King had every right to play the blues. Revered by peers such as Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert King, Chuck Berry and Otis Rush, he also garnered a plethora of later admirers, from Clapton and Hendrix to John Lennon and Keith Richards. 

Indeed, pretty much every guitarist that ever bent a string, added vibrato and let that note sing, owes something to King’s style. Today’s fine roster of bluesers, including John Mayer, Eric Gales, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr., Susan Tedeschi, Joanna Connor and Derek Trucks were all, directly or otherwise, affected by him. 

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Neville Marten

In the late '70s and early '80s Neville worked for Selmer/Norlin as one of Gibson's UK guitar repairers, before joining CBS/Fender in the same role. He then moved to the fledgling Guitarist magazine as staff writer, rising to editor in 1986. He remained editor for 14 years before launching and editing Guitar Techniques magazine. Although now semi-retired he still works for both magazines. Neville has been a member of Marty Wilde's 'Wildcats' since 1983, and recorded his own album, The Blues Headlines, in 2019.