Not only was B.B. King one of most influential blues guitar players ever, he was also one of the most complementary guitarists on the circuit, regularly heaping praise on his peers after witnessing their electric guitar chops.
Playing in front of King would no doubt have been a daunting prospect, but the Lucille-wielding guitar master made sure to keep his contemporaries calm by lauding their six-string efforts and showering them with compliments whenever the chance arose.
Case in point was King’s performance with Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt, who left King in awe with a series of stunning slide solos at the House of Blues Chicago in 2004. King’s fondness for Raitt’s playing is well-documented, having once called her “the best damn slide player working today”.
That wasn’t the only time a slide player caught the attention of King, though. Back in 2012, King shared the stage with John Mayer, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks at the Hollywood Bowl, and ended up giving the latter the greatest compliment a guitarist could receive after marveling at his slide skills.
As the quartet jammed over King's 1972 cut Guess Who, Trucks took the opportunity to unleash his glass guitar slide upon the fretboard of his Gibson SG, turning in a supremely soulful solo that had everyone on stage in disbelief.
Though one clip predominantly focuses on Truck and Mayer – who shows his appreciation through a series of disbelieving waves and head shakes – King can be heard heaping on the praise, playfully telling Tedeschi, “I can see why you married him.”
The solo only lasts around 75 seconds, but that’s more than enough for King, who proceeds to tell Trucks, “That’s probably as good as I’ve ever heard.”
Now, King would have listened to an insurmountable amount of blues music throughout his life, so for Trucks to hear he’d just performed some of the best King had ever heard… well, we can’t think of higher praise.
It's no wonder King was left so stunned by Trucks' solo, given the slide master's impactful and purposeful approach to soloing.
In an interview with MusicRadar back in 2017, the Tedeschi Trucks Band founder discussed his approach to lead playing, which had been influenced by a quote from jazz drummer, Elvin Jones.
“He’d say, ‘When you’re playing and when you’re soloing, always tell a story,’” Trucks reflected. “You hear it in the great musicians, whether it’s a drummer or a horn player or a guitar player – you hear them take those breaths. You can feel that there’s something they’re trying to tell you.
“It’s emotion. It could be a literal story you have in mind that you could be telling, but it’s important that it’s not just a pile of things that you practice that you think are cool. You really should be trying to express something.”