B.B. King & Eric Clapton – Riding With The King (2000)

FrontCover1B.B. King & Eric Clapton: No introduction necessary !

Riding with the King is a collaborative album by B.B. King and Eric Clapton that was released in 2000. It was their first collaborative album and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The album reached number one on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums and was certified 2× Multi-Platinum in the United States. Riding with the King was also released on a DVD-Audio in higher resolution and with a 5.1 surround sound mix in 2000.

The album was generally well received by reviewers, although some felt that it could have been better, and that the sound on the CD was too polished for a blues album.

B.B.King & Eric Clapton in the Sixites:

Riding with the King was the first collaborative album by Eric Clapton and B.B. King. They performed together for the first time at Cafe Au Go Go in New York City in 1967 when Clapton was 22 and a member of Cream, but did not record together until 1997 when King collaborated with Clapton on the song “Rock Me Baby” for his duets album, Deuces Wild. Clapton looked up to King and had always wanted to make an album with him. King said they had discussed the project often, and added: “I admire the man. I think he’s No. 1 in rock ‘n’ roll as a guitarist and No. 1 as a great person.” At the time of recording Riding with the King, Clapton was 55 and King 74.

Clapton initiated the recording sessions for Riding with the King and included some of his regular session musicians on the album. He also chose the songs and co-produced the album with Simon Climie, who had previously worked on several of Clapton’s albums. While this would appear to be a Clapton album recorded with King, Clapton gave center-stage to King, who took the lead on many of the songs with his singing and his solos.


The album contains five “vintage” King songs from the 1950s and 1960s: “Ten Long Years”, “Three O’Clock Blues”, “Help the Poor”, “Days of Old” and “When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer”.[3] Other standards include the Big Bill Broonzy-penned “Key to the Highway” (which Clapton had recorded in the early 1970s with Derek and the Dominos), Chicago pianist Maceo Merriweather’s “Worried Life Blues”, a cover of Isaac Hayes’s composition “Hold On, I’m Comin'” originally a 1966 single for Sam & Dave, and “Come Rain or Come Shine” from the 1946 musical St. Louis Woman. Two of the songs, “I Wanna Be” and “Marry You”, previously appeared on guitarist Doyle Bramhall II’s 1999 solo album, Jellycream. The album’s title track, “Riding with the King”, is a John Hiatt composition that came about when producer Scott Mathews recounted to Hiatt a strange and abstract dream he had of flying on an airplane with Elvis Presley. It is also the title track of Hiatt’s 1983 album of the same name that Mathews co-produced. The balance of the tracks were written especially for the album.


The tracks are a mixture of acoustic (“Worried Life Blues”) and electric songs (“Three O’Clock Blues”), and vary from slow numbers (“Ten Long Years”) to “mid-tempo stomps” (“Help the Poor”).

Steve Futterman at Entertainment Weekly called the “father” and “son” collaboration “triumphant”.[6] Louis Gerber wrote in Cosmopolis that Riding with the King “goes directly to the heart and soul” and is a “refreshing and sensational album, the best in the popular music genre since the release of Santana’s Supernatural”.

Dave Ferman wrote in the Mobile Register that while the album was a “great idea well-executed”, it is not as good as it could have been. Ferman complained that, in his opinion, Clapton has never been a very good blues vocalist, that Joe Sample’s keyboards were far too prominent in the mix, and that the CD sounded too “squeaky-clean, … antiseptic and clinical” for a blues album.


Nicole Bode wrote in the Columbia Daily Spectator that on the album, King takes Clapton “deeper into blues territory than he has ever gone alone”.[8] She said that King’s presence draws out a “raw, growling” side of Clapton’s voice that will surprise most Clapton fans.[8] She was particularly complimentary of “Come Rain or Come Shine”, on which she said King uses “a mournful vibrato so tender it almost breaks your heart”.[8] Bode also liked the call and response guitar and vocal duet of Clapton and King on “Hold On, I’m Comin'”, although she did add that Clapton’s vocals are not of the same calibre as King’s.[8]

Riding with the King peaked at number one on the Billboard Top Blues Albums in 2000,[9] and was certified 2× Multi-Platinum in the United States. The album also won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2000.

A 20th Anniversary reissue of the album was released on June 26, 2020. The reissue will feature two previously unreleased tracks, “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”, the video of which was released on Clapton’s YouTube channel on May 21, 2020, and a cover of “Let Me Love You Baby” written by Willie Dixon. (wikipedia)


The potential for a collaboration between B.B. King and Eric Clapton is enormous, of course, and the real questions concern how it is organized and executed. This first recorded pairing between the 74-year-old King and the 55-year-old Clapton was put together in the most obvious way: Clapton arranged the session using many of his regular musicians, picked the songs, and co-produced with his partner Simon Climie. That ought to mean that King would be a virtual guest star rather than earning a co-billing, but because of Clapton’s respect for his elder, it nearly works the other way around. The set list includes lots of King specialties — “Ten Long Years,” “Three O’Clock Blues,” “Days of Old,” “When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer” — as well as standards like “Hold on I’m Coming” and “Come Rain or Come Shine,” with some specially written and appropriate recent material thrown in, so King has reason to be comfortable without being complacent.


The real danger is that Clapton will defer too much; though he can be inspired by a competing guitarist such as Duane Allman, he has sometimes tended to lean too heavily on accompanists such as Albert Lee and Mark Knopfler when working with them in concert. That danger is partially realized; as its title indicates, Riding With the King is more about King than it is about Clapton. But the two players turn out to have sufficiently complementary, if distinct, styles so that Clapton’s supportive role fills out and surrounds King’s stinging single-string playing. (It’s also worth noting that there are usually another two or three guitarists on each track.) The result is an effective, if never really stunning, work. (by William Ruhlmann)


Doyle Bramhall II (guitar, background vocals on 04. + 07.)
Tim Carmon (organ)
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Nathan East (bass)
Andy Fairweather Low (guitar)
Steve Gadd (drums)
B.B. King (guitar, vocals)
Joe Sample (piano)
Paul Waller (programming)
Jimmie Vaughan (guitar on 06.)
background vocals:
Susannah Melvoin – Wendy Melvoin
01. Riding With The King (Hiatt) 4.23
02. Ten Long Years (Taub/King) 4.40
03. Key To The Highway (Broonzy/Segar) 3.39
04. Marry You (Bramhall II/Melvoin/Ross) 4.59
05. Three O’Clock Blues (Fulson) 8.35
06. Help The Poor (Singleton) 5.06
07. I Wanna Be (Bramhall II/Sexton) 4.45
08. Worried Life Blues (Hopkins/Merriweather) 4.25
09. Days Of Old (Taub/King 3:00
10. When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer (King/Taub 7:09
11. Hold On, I’m Comin’ (Hayes/Porter) 6.19
12. Come Rain Or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) 4.11
13. Let Me Love You (Dixon) 5.07
14. Rollin’ And Tumblin’ (Traditional) 4.32



More from Eric Clapton:

More from B.B. King:
More BBKing

B.B. King – In London (1971)

FrontCover1B.B. King (born Riley B. King; September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015) was an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. Rolling Stone magazine said that King was the third “Greatest Guitarist of All Time” in 2003.

He was born in Indianola, Mississippi. His father left the family and his mother was too poor to raise him, and so he came to his grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi. There he sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church. At the age of 15 he bought his first guitar. His idols were T-Bone Walker, but also jazz musicians like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhrad. 1943 he left the town and worked as a tractor driver. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas and reached a local audience with his sound. For this reason he got appearances in the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later, a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. This became so popular that it was expanded and became the “Sepia Swing Club.” During his work for the radio station he got his nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy” which was later shortened to B.B.


In 1949, King began recording songs for RPM Records from Los Angeles. King formed his own band; the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee and went on tours.
Lucille-European Tour 2009

In winter 1949 he played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. The hall was heated by burning barrels filled with kerosine. During his performance two men started a fight knocking over one of them and the hall was burning. Outside he learned that he had left his guitar and he ran inside to get it. Next day he found out that the fight was started over a woman named Lucille. Since that time he named the guitar “Lucille.”


In the 1950´s B.B. King became one of the most important blues musicians. He toured regularly. In 1956 he gave 352 concerts. Among his hits were “3 O’Clock Blues”,[4] “You Know I Love You,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “Please Love Me,” “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “You Upset Me Baby,” “Every Day I Have the Blues”, “Sneakin’ Around,” “Ten Long Years,” “Bad Luck,” “Sweet Little Angel”, “On My Word of Honor,” and “Please Accept My Love.”

In the 1960 King lost importance for black listeners but could reach the white music fans. A lot of white guitarist like Eric Clapton named him as influence. King played at rock concerts and venues of the hippie culture like the Fillmore West. He also reached #15 in the US-popcharts with his title “The Thrill Is Gone”. From the 1980s onward he had continued his career, appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year. The title “When Love Comes To Town”, which he performed together with the rock band U2 introduced him to a younger audience.


B.B. King was married two times. The marriages ended because of the burden of more than 200 concerts a year. It is reported that he is father of 15 children.[2] He has lived with Type II diabetes for over twenty years and is a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease.

King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 14, 2015 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease along with congestive heart failure and diabetic complications.[5][6] On May 30, 2015, King’s funeral was held at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola, Mississippi. He was buried at the museum.


B.B. King has made guest appearances in numerous popular television shows, including The Cosby Show, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, Married… with Children, Sanford and Son, and Touched by an Angel. He has also made a cameo in the movie Spies Like Us. In the movie Blues Brothers 2000 he was the leader of The Louisiana Gator Boys, a bluessupergroup, which battles against the Blues Brothers.

He is the owner of a chain of restaurants with concert venues in the United States. The first was opened on Beale Street in Memphis 1991. (wikipedia)


When ‘In London’ was released, the legendary blues guitarist and singer B.B. King was 46 years old and already had a great career behind him: he had started as a live musician, recorded various singles from 1949 and defied the emerging rock & roll with urban blues for a predominantly dark-skinned audience.

He had released well over 20 longplayer albums plus various compilations since 1957 alone, including classics like ‘Live At The Regal’ (1965) and ‘Live In Cook County Jail’ (1971), when a new path began to emerge: Besides competition from white rock & roll and the rock scene of the 1960s, the civil rights movement also robbed him of many fans: Young Afro-Americans no longer wanted to listen to the “blues of oppressed slaves”, they converted to funk, soul and other black music. Instead, more and more white kids came to the blues concerts, not least inspired by a few prominent fans from England: Eric Clapton, John Mayall, the Rolling Stones, Them, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Auger and others had triggered enthusiasm for African-American music in London in the late 1960s.


In this time of distancing and rapprochement in equal measure, B.B. King did exactly what had always kept his music alive: he sought encounters with other artists, used the crossover effect when he appeared alongside Ike & Tina Turner on the Rolling Stones’ US tour as the opening act. During that time, his song ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ charted and King was reportedly the first blues artist to be invited on TV highlights such as The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1970, the album ‘Indianola Mississippi Seeds’ was produced in collaboration with white artists – and the repetition of such categories alone shows us how commonplace racial segregation and discrimination still was at that time – Carole King and Leon Russell.

Jim Keltner

In 1971, another big step followed, namely across the Atlantic to London, right in the middle of blues-loving Britain. To speak of studio and guest musicians in connection with the various top-class line-ups on this album would be an understatement, because B.B. King met some real stars here who developed a fabulous joy of playing with him: Ringo Starr (dr), Gary Wright (p), Jim Keltner (dr), Peter Green (g), Klaus Voorman (b), David Spinozza (g), Steve Marriott (harp), the fat horn section of Jim Price, Ollie Mitchell, Chuck Findley, Bobby Keys and Bill Perkins, Alexis Korner on acoustic guitar, Dr. John alias Mac Rebenack also on guitar and The Mystery Shadow on Hammond organ – behind this pseudonym was Steve Winwood, presumably for contractual reasons.

Musically, King was very deeply embedded here in a slightly echoing whole, on a few songs his voice is perhaps a tad too far back for me. But by track 5 at the latest, the album highlight ‘Ghetto Woman’, with its wacky strings, the funky rhythm guitar of Mac Rebenack and the expressive vocals of Mr. King, one understood that here great Phil Spector cinema was applied to contemporary blues. The number made it to number 25 in the US R&B charts as a single. It’s just a pity that King’s final solo quickly falls victim to a fade-out.


In the following instrumental number ‘Wet Hayshark’, his over-clean tone and his very brittle rhythmic approach stand out – absolutely unique! Part-Time Love’ shows the king in his familiar form: sovereign in the lyrics, perfectly fat soling and in front of a cleanly swinging band. Alexis Boogie’ with King & Korner on acoustic guitars goes in a completely different, for B.B. rather unusual direction, just like the very soulful ‘Ain’t Nobody Home’ or the minimalist original funk ‘We Can’t Agree’ with an outstanding bass work by Klaus Voorman.


Conclusion: This is not an album for purists or dogmatists, because ‘In London’, B.B. King & collaborators were aiming for a contemporary sound image of the blues in progress. They succeeded. Encounters remained the salt in the blues soup in the following years: B.B. King later met The Crusaders, U2 and Eric Clapton, Gary Moore invited various icons as album guests and thus into the pop charts, which gave them late career highs, Muddy Waters worked with Johnny Winter and Johnny Winter on his last record once again with many old and young guitar greats. The blues lives on. (

And I add an interesting article about these legedndary recording sessions.


Duster Bennett (harmonica on 01.)
John Best (bass on 08.)
Paul Butler (guitar on 08.)
Peter Green (guitar on 01.
Chuck Findley (trombone on 01.)
Barry Ford (drums on 08.)
Jim Gordon (drums on 01., 05., 06.
Jim Keltner (drums on 02., 04. + 09.)
B.B. King (guitar, vocals)
Bobby Keys (saxophone on 01., 07. + 09.)
Alexis Korner (guitar on 03.)
Steve Marriott (guitar, harmonica on 03.)
Ollie Mitchell (trumpet on 01.
Bill Perkins (saxophone, clarinet on 01.
Jim Price (trumpet, on 01.,  06., 07. + 09., piano on 05.)
Dr. Ragovoy (piano on 09.)
Mac Rebennack (guitar on 05.)
Greg Ridley (bass on 03.)
Jerry Shirley (drums)
David Spinozza (guitar on 09.)
Ringo Starr (drums on 05. – 07
Klaus Voorman (bass on 01., 02., 04. – 07. + 09.)
John Uribe (guitar on 02., 04. + 09.)
Pete Wingfield (piano on 08.)
Steve “The Mystery Shadow” Winwood (organ on 02., 04.
Gary Wright (organ on 01., 07. + 09., piano on 02., 04. – 06.)
Rick Wright (piano on 01.
background vocals on 09.:
Carl Hall – Joshie Armstead – Tasha Thomas


01. Caldonia (Moore) 3.59
02. Blue Shadows (Glenn) 5.08
03. Alexis’ Boogie (Korner) 3.27
04. We Can’t Agree (JordanGray) 4.42
05. Ghetto Woman (King/Clark) 5.14
06. art-Time Love (Hammond) 3.12
08. Power Of The Blues (Wingfield) 2.20
09. Ain’t Nobody Home (Ragovoy) 3.10
10. May I Have A Talk With You /Burnett) 3.51


More from B.B.King:



Various Artists – Crossroads Guitar Festival (2007)

FrontCover1.jpgReleased almost exactly three years after the first, tremendously successful Crossroads DVD, this double-disc documents the 2007 benefit concert for Clapton’s Crossroads Center substance abuse facility. “Guitar” is the operative word here, since all the participants are six-string players. As in the last show, the genres include country (Willie Nelson, Vince Gill), gospel (Robert Randolph), Latin rock (Los Lobos), pop (Sheryl Crow, John Mayer), jazz fusion (John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck) and lots of blues (everyone else). Some performers such as Randolph, Mayer, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, and of course Clapton return from the 2004 lineup. That was a two-day event held in Dallas, TX. This was a one day — a very long day — show moved to the home of the blues, a stadium just outside of Chicago, and features a very funny Bill Murray introducing the acts.

Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood1.jpg

Based on the sunlight, it seems to be in chronological order, or close to it. Each artist gets one or two tunes cherrypicked from longer sets which keeps this album fast paced, even at its three-hour length. Still, it would make sense to release more music on a separate DVD or even CD for those who would like to hear the rest of the material. That is especially the case with Jeff Beck and Robert Randolph, two artists that burn up the stage with abbreviated performances. A highly anticipated reunion with Clapton and his Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood results in three songs, “Presence of the Lord,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and “Had to Cry Today” from that band’s only album.

Sheryl Crow2

While it sounds fine, there is a noticeable spark and edge missing from the interaction, leaving it somewhat bland and certainly anti-climactic. Derek Trucks burns through Layla’s “Anyday,” though, and Clapton sounds inspired on “Tell the Truth,” another Layla track cranked up with Trucks taking the Duane Allman slide part. Collaborations also bring out the best in some axe slingers, with Vince Gill and Albert Lee’s hot-wired “Country Boy,” and Jimmie Vaughan fronting the Robert Cray band on a sizzling slow blues “Dirty Work at the Crossroads.” (by Hal Horowitz)

Los Lobos2

01. Sonny Landreth: Hell At Home (with Eric Clapton) (Landreth) 6.38
02. John McLaughlin: Maharina (McLaughlin) 8.00
03. Doyle Bramhall II; Outside Woman Blues (Reynolds) 3.45
04. Derek Trucks Band: Highway 61 Revisited (with Johnny Winter) (Dylan) 9.17
05. Robert Randolph & The Family Band: The March (Randolph) 12.04
06. The Robert Cray Band: Poor Johnny (Cray) 6.20
07. Jimmie Vaughan: Dirty Work At The Crossroads (with The Robert Cray Band) (Brown/ Robey) 4.09
08. Hubert Sumlin: Sitting On The Top Of The World (with he Robert Cray Band & Jimmie Vaughan (Burnett) 4.29
09. B.B. King: The Thrill Is Gone (Benson/Pettie) 7.14
10. John Mayer: I Don´t Need No Doctor (Ashford/Simpson/Armstead) 7.10
11. Vince Gill: Sweet Thing (Nicholson/Gill) 5.04
12. Albert Lee: Country Boy (with Vince Gill) (Lee/Smith/Colton)
13. Eric Clapton & Sheryl Crow: Tulsa Time (with Vince Gill & Albert Lee) (Flowers) 6.32
14. Willie Nelson: On The Road Again  (with Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill & Albert Lee) (Nelson) 2.50
15. Los Lobos: Chains Of Love (Hidalgo/Pérez) 6.53
16. Jeff Beck: Big Block (Beck/Bozzio/Hymas) 5.44
17. Eric Clapton: Little Queen Of Spades (Johnson) 12.59
18. Eric Clapton & Robbie Robertson: Further On Up The Road (Robey‎/Veasey) 7.18
19. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Pearly Queen (Capaldi/Winwood) 5.47
20. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Had To Cry Today (Winwood) 6.24
21. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Cocaine (Cale) 9.30
22. Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Crossroads (Johnson) 5.59
23. Buddy Guy: Stone Crazy
24. Buddy Guy: Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues (Guy) 5.21
25. Buddy Guy & Eric Clapton: Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon) 9.18
26. Buddy Guy: Sweet Home Chicago (with Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, John Mayer, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan, Johnny Winter) (Johnson) 8.53

Jeff Beck2