B.B. King – “Key to The Highway” Live

B.B. King – “Key to The Highway” Live | Society Of Rock Videos

Blues Standard Done The King’s Way

“Key to the Highway” was first recorded by Charlie Segar in 1940. This song has become a blues standard which was covered by several other artists including Eric Clapton and B.B. King. Another blues singer and songwriter, Big Bill Broonzy also recorded his version and he explained how it was developed:

Some of the verses he [Charlie Segar] was singing it in the South the same time as I sung it in the South. And practically all of blues is just a little change from the way that they was sung when I was a kid … You take one song and make fifty out of it … just change it a little bit.

Though it’s a well-known “standard,” certain differences have been spotted with the recorded versions — Segar’s was a mid-tempo twelve-bar blues while Broonzy used an eight-bar blues arrangement. But no matter who is the original author, B.B. King owns it in a way that no one else can — by playing with a musical style that’s distinctively his. Though there are notes to follow, the King will always play it his way.

King also uses his 1st finger to bend the 4 a half-step to the b5, or a whole-step to the n5. In Ex. 2b, a six-bar intro excerpt culled from a 2007 performance of the blues standard “Key to the Highway,” every note is derived exclusively from this pattern.

Yes, he has a pattern with his guitar playing but still, no one can emulate his style perfectly. One can learn his butterfly vibrato or “trill” sound and even play it on his beloved Lucille. But nobody can do it his way and that’s what makes his live performances extra special!

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