So BB King had many many guitars during his career that he called Lucille. But this particular model, due under the hammer in September, was the main instrument of the King of the Blues in his later touring years.
The story of why BB King called his guitars Lucille is one of the most famous stories guitar music history. In the winter of 1949. BB King was playing in a dance hall. The dance floor was heated by a half-full barrel of burning kerosene. In a dispute, two men beat the barrel, the hall went up in flames and was evacuated. Actually, BB was already safe, but had forgotten his guitar. So he ran back into the burning building to rescue his beloved $30 Gibson. The two men had quarrelled over a woman named Lucille; from that day on BB King named all his guitars after her.
Renowned auction house Julien’s Auctions will be auctioning coveted items owned by the legendary King of the Blues on September 21, 2019. BB was a 15-time Grammy Award winner and founder of the Electric Blues. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck called him an inspiration. The auction can be described – without hesitation – as spectacular.
Gibson ES-345 “Lucille”
The most coveted item in the collection is likely to be the prototype of his signature Lucille model. The modified ES-345 was built in 2006 by Gibson on the occasion of BB’s 80th birthday. Worldwide there were only 80 of them. The prototype was retained by the King of the Blues and he played it until his death in 2015, relying on it as his main instrument on stage.
Unlike an ordinary ES-345, the 80th Anniversary Lucille has no F-holes, a special crown logo, custom BB pickup covers, and a mother-of-pearl decorated headstock.
The auction not only includes a collection of his instruments, but also stage jackets, jewellery, awards, personal items and more. It spans six decades of his career and so I’m sure it will be crammed with great items from the legendary bluesman’s life.
- BB King Lucille: Julien's Auction