B.B. King: The Life of Riley

Release Date: June 17, 2014

B.B. King: The Life of Riley
| Rating: 9.8 / 11 |

This is the story of one man who single-handed shaped the face of many musicians (and as a result, a few music genres) past, present and future. He overcame hardship by not acknowledging its existence, he dealt with segregation by blurring the lines and he never stopped chasing his dream. This is the story of Riley B. King, an original Blues Boy.

Let’s just say it; this is a documentary rich in appearances, rich in history and beneficial to any musicologist or music nerd studying the roots of rock n roll in their own garage. While B.B. King: The Life of Riley focuses more on the man who came to be known as B.B. King, and less on B.B. King’s music itself, it provides a snapshot of how one person can change the culture. Everyone from Eric Clapton, Bono, Bill Cosby, Jonny Lang, Carlos Santana and even President Obama take time to acknowledge the pivotal role B.B. King played on music, on the American culture and on their lives in general during this definitive autobiography.

He’ll never admit it himself, but B.B. King is a legend. His unique guitar playing style that he crafted because he wanted to emulate the sound of a slide guitar, but his “clumsy fingers” couldn’t operate a slide himself; his “one note” simplicity that makes each song convey emotion in a whole new light; B.B. King developed a way for his guitar, Lucille, to do the talking.

Directed by Jon Brewer and narrated by Morgan Freeman with more guest appearances than you count on four hands, B.B. King: The Life of Riley will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and various digital platforms starting June 17th. It runs a little long, but, overall, worth the investment.