At this stage in his storied career, it is hard to imagine there is anything left for B.B. King to accomplish. Arguably the most influential blues guitarist ever, he has been inducted into both the Blues and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame, has won 15 Grammys and been given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, has received honorary doctorates in music from Brown and Yale University and has received awards from former President George W. Bush and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music — a long, winding road from the sharecropper’s cabin where he was born in rural Mississippi in 1925.
Despite his enormous worldwide popularity, however, his latest project has yet to be released here. BB King: The Life of Riley, a biographical documentary, was released in the United Kingdom in October, and Canada’s BAM Distribution recently acquired rights, but the film has yet to find a distributor in America. Blues is a truly American tradition, and King’s name is synonymous with the genre, so it’s puzzling that companies aren’t leaping at the chance to share this project — narrated by Morgan Freeman — with American audiences.
In the meantime, the man who has brought us such classics as “The Thrill is Gone,” “Rock Me Baby” and “Sweet Little Angel” continues to share the blues wherever people appreciate soul-stirring music. Maybe the lack of U.S. distribution bothers him, maybe it doesn’t; either way, he will press on as he has done since he began making music in 1949.
B.B. King plays 7:30 pm Sunday, March 10, at the Hult Center; $39-$69.