I found this video and, aside from the stellar singing by Gladys Knight and Etta James (I didn’t care much for Chaka Khan on this one,) I want you to watch BB King when he takes a solo at about 2 minutes in.

The camera will be on him as he starts the solo and he’ll be sitting right in what I call the “house” pattern (I talk about this pattern in 5 Easy Blues Solos among others,) and he just kills it. He doesn’t leave that little 4-5 note area for the whole first half of the solo while the camera is on his hand.

I love examples like this where there isn’t anything fancy or complex… it just sounds perfect and it’s as if there’s no way it could be better no matter what you think you might add.

And enjoy this great tune:

    71 replies to "BB, Gladys, Etta, Chaka…"

    • François Sawyer

      Eric Clapton did a killer version of this piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c_yYC8k_kk

      And that was just a rehearsal. It is seeing the live show that started me playing the guitar again in 1995.

    • Krzysztof Chmiel

      Very nice guitar solo of BB but those women should sing not to bawl caring better about them throats…

    • mark smith

      It sounded like. The 4 note solo at the 2min mark

    • Oge

      I would sure like to see this SOLO diagrammed. GRIFF? ANYBODY?

    • Tony McDonell

      What is there to say but “Less is more’

    • Mark Arnold

      I have always loved BB,s vibrato I’m really big on that it’s just something I always practice and nobody did it better than BB King thanks again Griff

    • Tim Kinamon

      The great Paul Butterfield was there too. He passed soon after.

    • John Bikadi

      Thank you for providing me the opportunity to listen and learn. I really never have taken the time to listen to other artists to learn from them. But since I have been taking your lessons you have opened a brand new world of music for me and helped me build new skills that are esential to good guitar playing. For example I have been counting so much lately that I decided to play a few songs and I could not beleve how much better my playing sounded. It was really a insparational moment for me. Now when I listen to BB king he sounds diffrent to me then before, I hear him, I feel his notes. I used to live by this motto ” Simple but not easy ” , but now Im going to change it to ” Simple but not easy, Unless you practise daily ” 🙂

    • Ken

      Love, love, love Etta ever since I first heard “At Last” back in 1960, man she could belt out a note or two. Gladys, well what can you say, love those soulful sounds out of her gospel upbringing voice. memories of the sixties and soul power. And Chaka has an amazing voice but she didn’t quite stand up against the other two lovely ladies. Mr BB King, amazing whenever I hear him live. I remember a time when he played here in Melbourne, he had a young guitarist who he brought up on stage, and after they both played he turned to the audience and said “it’s amazing what you can do with just three chords”. That has stuck with me and I think it always will. Thanks Griff for this great clip.

    • don carmen

      therein lies the essence. how does one learn that? the ability to express with so few notes one at a time. my gosh|

    • Richard Poole

      Damn Skippy….What BB can do with 4 or 5 notes is what makes him a Legend….Thanks Griff!

    • mike z.

      Griff, thanks for this video. I am going to look or the entire show if possible. Chaka was out of her league, trying to sing with Gladys and Etta. Take care Griff. Mike Z.

    • Lowdown dirty Shane

      B.B. is the King! Love Etta’s voice too! Great performance. Thanks G!

      • PAUL


    • C A Newkirk

      ….if your solos don’t support the melody line of the song, please do us all a favor and sell your guitar. BB always understood that it’s the melody that sells the song, not how fast you can play scales.

      • Forrest

        That is what I was thinkin….

    • Lem G.

      Is is just me or does Etta James channel Howling Wolf on this vocal ?
      Jerry Portnoy on harmonica. Riley King has always said that his lead guitar tone likes to emulate a woman’s voice and after hearing these three vocalists, who are we to argue with that approach ?

    • bigmyc

      Don’t know if it was mentioned already or even if I am correct about it but did you notice that BB’s solo was the melody to “Georgia on my Mind?” I seem to think that Gladys is from that state (or maybe it’s just because of “Midnight Train to Georgia”) and perhaps it was King’s tribute to her. IDK, but I suppose the fact that the chord progression from the song in the video is similar to the Ray Charles classic might have something to do with my ear.

    • Len

      Thanks Griff,Really enjoyed the video,awsome.Len

    • David Bird

      THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!

    • Kit Kincannon

      If you take any great artist – look at his/her work progression. A lot of work, a lot of work, then you experience that what they produce after most* of the learning process usually contains most of their acquired knowledge. Then, at the pinnacle of their talent, you will see that the artist only needs just a few strokes, notes and/or words to convey a myriad of textures and feelings. It happens with Painters, Actors, Musicians … Humans.

      *It will never be “after” the learning process because, well, you should never stop learning.

      • Dennis Andrews

        i love what you said here…great words!

    • Colin Campbell

      Thanks Griff for reminding us in this video that your observations of B.B. King’s guitar playing give us ALL the chance to play some great sounding electric blues guitar.

    • Stephen Nash

      simple now that’s very very encouraging for those of us that stand up and think we need to rip it all we need to do is just do it

    • Tim

      BB keeps it simple but musical!

    • Bruce

      Very smooth , yea nice, proving less is more. l had the opportunity a few years ago to see BB here in Colorado springs ,and he played a very smooth version of the Key to the highway. l remember his sound of his guitar was so warm ,with a slight overdrive bite , but with such nice minimalistic phrasing. Proving what Griff has stated often. do not overplay!

    • jim

      …gonna try to make BBs playin my bizness!

    • colin bearman

      wonderfull ,loved every second of it

    • tony


    • EJG

      Great video. BB is the King of less is more.

      The video is from BB’s Blues Session. The guest artists included Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Chaka Khan, Billie Ocean, Gladys Knight, Etta James, Paul Butterfield and Dr. John.

      The DVD was released in 2005, but I think the show was from 1987.

    • John England

      Excellent. How live music should be . Minimal gimmicks, maximum talent.

    • Jim Cameron

      Peter G.

      On harmonica is the late great Paul Butterfield.I have his tutorial books and CD but I will never be a Paul Butterfield.

    • Gary Fonda

      It’s the 4 note solo.. Thanks Griff

      • Gary Hylton

        You’re so right brother.

        Old School and Still Rockin’

    • Dan

      Totally spoiled by Chaka Khan! Exceptional otherwise!
      Once again BB the master!

      • Tom

        Yep – same ole stuff – some people sing and some just scream. Gladys has a pure voice. Khan could learn alot about music by acutally listening to her fellow singers and the simple quality of BB’s playing.

    • billy morris

      i saw that video it was great i love grays kinght siging and all of her music i did some of her songs on you tube also did b.b. king song , the thrillis gone, nice song , b.b. did and etta, her best one song at last thanks billy morris

    • Dave Shephard

      Wonderful. Thanks Griff.

    • charles

      Was Good all in one square that’s greatness bbs end run was great also
      Chaka was somewhat off her square sometimes nice an Smooth can be the order of the day when in Rome do what romans do wrong place wrong crowd

    • Anthony Ingoglia

      Actually BB plays at times in two different “house” boxes. He plays in the traditional #2 minor box position and the 2 frets higher which is a Major house box. I can’t tell which one he is in since I didn’t try to figure what key they were in. A teacher of mine said that I should play note as if they were money. Spend them wisely and don’t throw money at the problem.

      • billy morris

        i saw this video by them i love gladys knight she ie the best i did some of her music a while back on you tube and aldo did b.b. king the thrill is gone did it on you tube also thanks billy morris

    • MikeS

      Great example of plaything the rhythm of the vocal part if not the notes.

    • Jay

      If nothing else, this one video is a fantastic example that Gladys Knight is without question among the top vocalists ever, that BB is among the top guitarists ever, and that less is more. Though surrounded by great musicians, all BB & Gladys need is a little clean amplification to fully entertain the largest audience. No lasers, no dancers, no speed pickin’, no effects. THIS is sonic WOW!. Thanks, Griff.

    • Dale Hall

      So nice to see BB standing up!!!

    • Mark

      I may be an atheist, but I found true musical religion in this number. There’s NO ONE like B.B. King, and those 3 ladies (actually two of them) just knocked me out. Chaka had some trouble, which made the words unintelligible at times.

    • Bill E


    • gina

      Perfect!!!!!!!!!!!! Need I say anything more!

    • Butch

      Chaka is great in her own way but she is clearly out of her league here. Sounds like she is trying to sing in too high a register! Gladys and Etta were fabulous, I always loved listening to them! BB was great as he always!
      Thanks for this great video!

    • Jonboy

      What a great video…Classic.. though I must confess Freddie King`s version allways does it for me ….sparse fills but when he does play it rips your heart out ..Where are all the modern greats going to come from.

    • Steven S.

      If only, If only, I could work that Pentatonic Box like Griff and BB, WOW , “I could’A been a contender” and not just a picker like I am, again there ant no substitute for practice, and not to mention “talent”: Keep up the work Griff!!

    • Peter G.

      Griff…you’ve done it again picking out a classic musical moment for us all. Was that Delbert McClinton on harp? He is one of my all-time favorite singers/songrwriters and harmonica players (apparently he taught John Lennon how to play). But great guitar work by the King. He plays so simply but with style and feeling. Thank you, thank you!

    • David Heidenreich

      Just enough in all the right places. Perfect!

    • Daz

      I have the full collection of the Clapton cross roads that he does every second year and must say BB is the one I keep playing over and over

    • Rick Patti

      That solo sounds like Griffs 4 note solo

    • Alex Mowatt

      Another wonderful video Griff. B B King was on his game, as they say. I do not know the vintage of the video but B B King looks about mid sixties in it. The three woman gave it their best. True only two really nailed it properly without shouting too much. I guess, for some, it is a personal taste issue. I do not like shouters as such yet, know that certain songs justify it a bit. Behind B B King it does look like Albert King was ‘up front taking a degree of the applause, perhaps rightly so for it was not entirely clear whether or not he contributed. Great video Griff. thank you.

    • papa j

      Gladys is fantastic!

    • Steve

      Should have added, I think Chaka was trying to scream her way into same the vocal horsepower range as Gladys and Etta, it just didn’t work and I think she and everyone else knew it.

      • Anthony

        Thanks Griff! Great show. Was that Albert King at the back?

    • LarryG

      Makes you wanna jump up on that stage and get it on!

      • Anthony

        Great Griff. Thanks! Is that Albert King at the back?

    • Gary L.

      Man…that’s so nice!

    • Steve

      Like Eric Clapton has said BB gets more music out of one note than anyone else!

    • cowboy

      when you play with soul, you don’t need a lot of notes…and BB’s the best at this…later.


    • Bob K

      Sure knows how to make his guitar solo “sing” back with feeling in response to the killer singing.

    • grant

      Damn! Clearly its GOOD to be the King…………….with all those Queens around, SWEET!

    • wayne


    • geoff

      Solos so simple but yet so good, , cheers griff.

    • lee rabitor

      Awesome I hope the like that never stop Thank YOU

    • Mick

      Three Queens one King

    • Bill Plantan

      THAT put a big smile on my face first thing this morning. Etta …wow…and the smooth tone of Gladys…I agree with you about Chaka. But BB nails it…so does the harmonia player. Thanks for sharing Griff. Enjoy your weekend !

    • Greg Lancey

      Nice uncomplicated and smooth

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