• He’s the king of the blues, the genre’s elder statesman, and a one-of-a-kind musician. B.B. King is that one guitarist who nearly anyone can recognize with only a single note. Of course, that note would sing with sustain and be drenched in fret-hand vibrato. Nobody plays, or sings, the blues like King. He was, and still is, at the forefront of electric blues guitar. His catalog is essential listening for anyone even thinking of playing a 12-bar tune. Indeed, noteworthy players such as Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Guy, and Jimi Hendrix all cut their teeth on King’s solos. And now, eighty years young and still out on the road, King is a living legend if there ever was one. Let’s explore the licks and phrases of this blues giant.

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Tom Kolb

A Musicians Institute teacher since 1989, Tom Kolb has published many books on guitar technique and been featured in instructional DVDs by Hal Leonard. He is also the author of the Soloing Strategies column in Guitar World magazine.