The Incomparable B.B. King Explains How His Guitar Lucille Got Her Name in a 1986 Interview Animated for PBS

In the most recent episode of the PBS animated series “Blank on Blank,” the incomparable B.B. King talks about how his beloved guitar got her name, his roots in the South, and pleasing his audience in a 1986 interview with Joe Smith, longtime record executive and author of the 1989 book Off the Record.

I used to play a place in Twist, Arkansas. Still there, Twist, Arkansas. They used to have a little nightclub there that we played quite often. It used to get quite cold in Twist. They used to take something looked like a big garbage pail and set it in the middle of the floor, half fill it with kerosene, and would light that fuel and that’s what we used for heat. Generally, the people would dance around it and they wouldn’t disturb this container. This particular night, two guys started to fighting and one of ‘em knocked the other one over on this container. When they did, it spilled on the floor. Now it was already burning, so when it spilled, it looked like a river of fire. Everybody ran for the front door including yours truly. But when I got on the outside, then I realized that I’d left my guitar inside. I went back for it. The building was a wooden building and it was burning so fast when I got my guitar, it started to collapse around me. So I almost lost my life trying to save the guitar. Well the next morning we found that these two guys was fighting about a lady. I never did meet the lady, I never did meet the lady, but I learned that her name was Lucille so I named my guitar Lucille to remind me not to do a thing like that again.

The Thrill Is Gone (Live at Montreux 1993)

image via Blank on Blank