The thrill is gone: Blues legend B.B. King dead at 89

Growing up, my dad used to play a lot BB King's music at home. It wasn't till my mid-teens that I could fully appreciate the amazing talent BB King had to offer. In 1995 the film "Casino" came out and one of the songs on the soundtrack was "The Thrill is Gone".

B.B. King performs at the Bluesfest Music Festival in Byron Bay, Australia, in 2011.

photo by: Noam Nizzani

I bought the soundtrack's CD, and would listen to the song over and over again. I was hooked on his sound and singing style, and later familiarized myself with a wider scope of his music, and his contribution to bringing blues music to a mainstream audience.

In 2003, I had moved to live in Mullumbimby, Australia. I worked at my uncle Moshe's cafe for a while. Every night before closing, while cleaning up, my uncle would blast a mixed CD he had made, the first song on it was BB King's rendition of "Stormy Monday". My uncle passed away in 2010, and I will always associate that song with my uncle and that era of my life.

The following year, I was commissioned to shoot at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, where BB King was a guest performer on the second night of the festival. I was standing in the pit, under the stage, when Mr. King slowly entered the stage, while throwing guitar picks at the audience. He sat down on a chair in the middle of the stage, 5 feet away from me. During the first song, BB King took one long stare right into my lens, I felt a chill run down my spine, and captured this picture you see here. This was his gift to me.

Video of B.B. King entering stage at the 2011 Byron Bluesfest.
Please excuse the shaky footage :)

I had been shooting celebrities for a few years, and was immune to the excitement you get when you see a famous person. However, during this festival, I could barely contain my excitement when I saw BB King live on stage just a few feet from me. A few days later, I felt the same way when I saw and shot pictures of Bob Dylan performing.

I'm happy to have had the opportunity to photograph an iconic picture of a blues legend and a personal musical hero of mine. I will alway cherish the brief moment when his eyes crossed my lens.

My deepest condolences and sympathies to Mr. King's family, may he rest in peace.