B.B. King to show magical bond

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Over his more-than-60-year career, B.B. King, who performs Saturday at Bell Auditorium, has played with a lot of musical partners, each named Lucille.

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B.B. King plays Lucille. He has had several guitars with the name Lucille during his career.  Associated Press
Associated Press
B.B. King plays Lucille. He has had several guitars with the name Lucille during his career.

The first Lucille was a $30 Gibson guitar purportedly rescued from a club fire and named for a woman whom he had been fighting over. Legend has it he kept the name to remind him not to indulge in ill-advised behavior -- such as running into burning buildings or fighting over women. Over the years there have been many Lucilles, some the signature Gibson he helped design in the early '80s, others stock guitars and even (gasp) an occasional Fender.

Lucille and her King are inseparable. It's impossible to imagine the musician without a gleaming black Gibson cradled in his arms.

That lasting love affair is not uncommon in the annals of music. Many musicians form significant bonds with favorite instruments. Here is a list of guitarists and the iconic instruments that have become associated with them.

JIMI HENDRIX: Although he played a Gibson at Woodstock, Hendrix will forever be associated with Fender Stratocasters, strung upside-down to accommodate his lefty ways. It was a Strat he set alight at the end of his Monterey Pop performance, purportedly because he believed you must destroy that which you love.

JIMMY PAGE: There have been a lot of instruments in the Zep vet's arsenal, but none of them are as iconic as the custom Gibson double-neck he frequently played in concert. Built as both a six- and 12-string guitar, the uncommon instrument was capable of both the ethereal lilt and powerful crunch that are part of the Zeppelin sound.

ANGUS YOUNG: The AC/DC guitarist's original guitar was a 1968 Gibson SG with a working man's natural brown finish. Each guitar since has been more of the same. Like Young's bar chord blues, there's nothing fancy about the instruments, but like the musician that wields them, they have proved more than capable of getting the job done.

NEIL YOUNG: Legend has it that Young traded a Gibson hollow-body to Buffalo Springfield bandmate Jim Messina for the battered Les Paul affectionately dubbed Old Black. An important part of the Crazy Horse sound, the guitar remains an instrumental instrument, played on those occasions when Young eschews acoustic for loud rock.

WILLIE NELSON: Arguably country music's best-known instrument, Nelson's Trigger, a battered 1969 Martin N-20, has literally had holes played into it. Nelson has often spoken about the instrument, stating that he's never found another that played as well and felt as natural. He has also said that when Trigger has to be retired, so will he.

ERIC CLAPTON: Built from three used Stratocasters in the early 1970s, Blackie (named for its black paint) was Clapton's go-to guitar for most of the '70s and '80s. It was sold at a charity auction in 2004 for $959,500.

JOE STRUMMER: There was only one guitar for punk icon Strummer. The musician best known for his work with the Clash played the same battered, stickered and spray-painted '66 Fender Telecaster before he joined the band and continued to play it until his untimely death in 2002. Only the stickers changed.

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN: Although pictured playing several well-loved guitars, the late Texas bluesman clearly shared a bond with the Fender Stratocaster he called Number One. Built from parts stripped from 1959, '62 and '63 models, the guitar was known for its extra-wide neck and superior tone.

BO DIDDLEY: Ostensibly a Gretsch, Diddley's exotic rectangular guitar was really a Diddley original. Often referred to as the Twang Machine, Diddley lore states that the instrument was cut down after he injured himself on a full-sized guitar during an energetic set.

EDDIE VAN HALEN: It bears the moniker Frankenstrat, but Van Halen's famous red, white and black-striped guitar was actually built using a cast-off Charvel body. Many guitars have passed through the tap master's hands since this guitar, a mainstay on the early Van Halen recordings, got regular play. Still it's the hand-painted product of a young guitarist honing his style that will forever be associated with both the man and band.

KEITH RICHARDS: The sharp, biting tones found on Stones classics such as Brown Sugar come compliments of Micawber, Richards '50s-era butterscotch Telecaster. The guitar is named for a character in the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield.

In concert

WHAT: B.B. King

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Bell Auditorium

COST: $45-$75; www.georgialinatix.com


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