Life is funny. I’m a plug-and-play kind of gal living in a satellite TV vs. Netflix world. In our house, changing between the two is a complex process requiring multiple remotes and knowing which acronym is which (HDMI1? HDMI3?) before you can even begin to look for what you’d like to watch. Needless to say, I am rarely the one discovering interesting or obscure entertainment options.
But today we (and by “we,” I mean the hubs) found “B.B. King: The Life of Riley” on Netflix. And what a great find it was! One of the first things my husband and I realized we had in common when we met is our mutual love of American blues music. We are both long-time B.B. King fans.
But I digress. I wanted to talk about how life is funny sometimes. In the course of this two-hour gem of a documentary, I found out a couple of really interesting things I have in common with The King of the Blues himself:
- We were both once radio DJs, spinning blues tunes (of course) for our listeners.
- And this just tickled me: It had somehow escaped my attention all these years that B.B.’s real first name is Riley — which means I (quite inadvertently) named the main character in my first work of fiction after one of my all-time music idols.
His iconic nickname came from his DJ days, where he was called the Beale Street Blues Boy, which was shortened to Blues Boy, then later simply B.B. You can read about that and 31 other things you didn’t know about him here.
Of all the concerts I’ve attended (and, honestly, living in New Jersey most of my life, halfway between NYC and Philadelphia, I can’t even count them all), I only remember seeing B.B. King once, in 2008 at Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton. What a night! Few musicians have ever been able to move me to tears, but the then 76-year-old legend completely blew me away. I literally cried in the dark in that beautiful, acoustically perfect Art Deco theater during several of his songs, knowing I was at the show of my life and that I’d likely never get to see him perform a live show again. I’ll never forget it.
Since the story behind how Riley Russell really came by her first name is already set and can’t be changed (it’s a pivotal, life-changing event that will be revealed in a future book in the series), I think I may have to make her a blues fan. I just can’t let this wonderful coincidence go to waste. Maybe I’ll work in a Beale Street somewhere, too.
Here’s to you, B.B.