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Album: Completely WellReleased: 1969Charted:
This was written and originally recorded by the blues musician Roy Hawkins in 1951. In the 1950s, King was a Memphis radio DJ who played the Roy Hawkins original on the air. The song is about moving on from a relationship that has gone bad.
King recorded the song several times but didn't like any of the results. Producer Bill Szymczyk (most famous for producing the Eagles) called King at 4:00 a.m. and suggested the addition of strings (King later said that he'd agree to just about anything at that time of the night). The addition polished up the recording that gave King his first million-selling record.
This was B.B. King's biggest hit. He didn't have much success on the charts, but became a blues legend who influenced a generation of musicians. King passed away in 2015 at age 89.
King recorded this live at The Coconut Grove in 1976 with fellow blues legend Bobby "Blue" Bland. B.B. had to be begged by Bobby to play the tune, and after some chiding, he agreed. During the performance Bobby Bland noticed a woman named Viola singing in the audience and brought her up on stage.
Tracy Chapman recorded this as a duet with B.B. King for his 1997 Deuces Wild
Music video director Thom Oliphant shot the clip for the King/Chapman duet at a hotel in Oakland, California. "What we created for 'The Thrill is Gone' was this guy looking back on his life and the great moments of it that had happened," he said in his Songfacts interview
. That song is such a classic, I mean, how do you really do a video to it?"
The story revolved around the actors while King and Chapman performed in the lobby, which suited King just fine. "At the time, almost everything B.B. had done were these great documentary moments where it was him on stage with his guitar. He hadn't really done anything that was conceptual. So he didn't really participate that much in it, because he's reticent to be anything other than B.B. King."