by Mike Mettler

photo by Kevin Westenberg, courtesy of Universal Music

Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King passed away on Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Las Vegas at age 89. Styx guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw shares the following memories of one of his prime influences:

I’m listening to B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel,” and it’s reminding me of growing up in Montgomery, Alabama and playing that song as a teenager. It stirred something in me that I was just beginning to figure out how to call upon. Later on, “The Thrill Is Gone” would serve as the last song of the evening in a band called MS Funk, and by then, I had really gotten a handle on that thing that “Sweet Little Angel” had awakened.

We never met, but as a muse, he always reminded me to keep it simple and straight from the heart. He also showed how important live performing was for the spirit of those who found that joy in it, and that there was never an age limit to tapping into that joy. Thank you B.B. King for the great music, and influence. God Speed...

Tommy Shaw