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Did you know B.B. King nearly died for his guitar?

He told the story to Joe Smith in a 1986 interview, which was animated for the episode of PBS's "Blank on Blank" above. It was in his early touring days. He'd just finished a set in an Arkansas club when a fight broke out, causing a fire. It wasn't until he reached safety that he realized he'd left his guitar behind, so he ran back in to retrieve it.


All GIFs via "Blank on Blank."

After his narrow escape, he learned that the conflict was between two men fighting over a woman whose name he adopted for his now iconic six-string, "Lucille."

Gibson Custom B.B. King Lucille. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Why risk his life for a guitar? Well, his music wasn't just a hobby. It was who he was.

King came into this world in a place and time that wasn't easy for the black community. He was born in a small Mississippi town in 1925, when Jim Crow was the rule of the South, and the country had decades to go before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Image via Heinrich Klaffs/Flickr.

But that experience made his — and other southern blues greats' — rise to fame possible. The distinct, emotive sound of southern blues was an evolution of music rooted in a legacy of racism and oppression. And blues music was an important cultural movement that helped break down racial barriers in the U.S. as it earned its place in the mainstream.

But blues music, according to King, isn't just for southern black folks.

"This is kind of how blues began — out of feeling misused, mistreated. Feeling like they had nobody to turn to. Blues don't necessarily have to be sung by a person that came from Mississippi, as I did, because there are people having problems all over the world." — B.B. King

King's goal at every show was to make his music a truly uniting force.

"When I go on the stage each night, I try my best to outguess my audience. And I like to feel in most cases like I'm a big guy with long rubber arms that I can reach around my audience and swing and sway with them, move them with me." — B.B. King

King moved and inspired people young and old (myself included) until the day he passed.

He became known as "King of the Blues." And while he was a master of his craft, it was his ethic and humility that drew people in and will do so for generations to come.

Image via 5gig/Flickr.

"I don't like to feel that I owe anything. I like to feel that I paid my own way. No free lunch. And when people give me all these great compliments, I thank them but still go back to my room to practice. ... I am not inventing anything that's going to stop cancer or muscular dystrophy. But I like to feel that my time and talent is always there for the people that need it." — B.B. King
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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