Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King was heckled and booed by audience members during a concert in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday. Audience members say the 88-year-old’s erratic performance led to a stream of audience catcalls and early departures.
The AP reports, concertgoers said King’s rambling Friday night set featured just a handful of complete songs, wandering musical interludes, long-winded monologues, an 8-piece backup band that missed its cues and a 15-minute sing-along of You Are My Sunshine.
One audience member said he paid $150 for a pair of tickets plus parking and although he counts himself as a longtime fan of the blues legend, he was disappointed by the show. “Is he a living legend? Absolutely. Do I love his music? You bet,” said digital marketing executive Larry Goldstein. “But when you’re paying that type of money, you expect to see a show.”
Another concertgoer, Bob Johnson, said the dissatisfied audience members were just trying to encourage King, suggesting he play specific song titles or urging him to “play some music” during the long interludes. “Everybody was trying to be respectful that this guy is 88 years old,” he said. “It was painful to watch.”
In his concert review for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Daniel Durchholz wrote that although “one is loath to disparage a legend”, King “is surrounded by a large band and a surfeit of handlers, and they are fair game.”
“When King was lost for a lyric or simply what to do next,” continues Durchholz, “the band seemed more than content to stand respectfully by and watch him (metaphorically) die.” Reports the AP, the underwhelming experience highlights an increasingly common occurrence, as musicians in their 70s and 80s continue to take the stage in front of nostalgic audiences.
According to Durchholz, King couldn’t understand the insults being thrown his way and after 15 of You Are my Sunshine, he transitioned into a successful rendition of one of his signature classics, The Thrill Is Gone. After that, he completed just two more songs. Watch a few clips from the show below.
Watch: B.B. King at the Peabody St. Louis, April 4, 2014