Lucille is the name given to B.B. King's guitars. They were usually black Gibson guitars similar to the ES-355.
The story of Lucille.
In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. In order to heat the hall, a barrel half-filled with kerosene was lit, a fairly common practice at the time. During a performance, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. The hall burst into flames, and the building was evacuated. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside so he went back into the burning building to retrieve his beloved $30 Gibson guitar. Two men died in the fire, and King learned the next day that they had been fighting over a woman named Lucille. King subsequently named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every guitar he has owned since, as a reminder never again to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women.
B.B. King wrote a song called "Lucille" in which he talks about his guitar and how it got its name. The song was first released as part of Lucille and is included on the B. B. King Anthology 1962–1998 album.
King played guitars made by different manufacturers early in his career. He played a Fender Telecaster on most of his recordings with RPM Records (USA). However, he is best known for playing variants of the Gibson ES-355.
In 1980, Gibson Guitar Corporation launched the B. B. King Lucille model. The most noticeable differences between the Lucille and the Gibson ES-355TD-SV on which it is based are the "Lucille" script on the headstock, the maple neck, and the lack of F-holes on the top. The top has no F-holes at B. B. King's request to reduce feedback.
The B.B. King Standard model was made from 1980 to 1985. This model had chrome hardware and dot inlays instead of block inlays.
The Gibson subsidiary Epiphone also offers a low-cost, foreign-made Lucille model based on the Gibson Lucille. Differences include a variation on the headstock inlays, a gloss finish and different pickups.
Gibson Little Lucille
In 1999, Gibson launched the Little Lucille, a version of their Blueshawk guitar. It differed from the Blueshawk in having a Tune-o-matic bridge and a TP-6 stop tailpiece.
The model is no longer found among Gibson USA's current product listing, and the Blueshawk on which it was based has been discontinued.
The 80th Birthday Lucille
In 2005, for B.B. King's 80th birthday, Gibson made a special run of 80 Gibson Lucilles, referred to as the '80th Birthday Lucille', and the first prototype was presented to King as a birthday present. King used the guitar as his main guitar until the summer of 2009, when it was stolen from him. On September 10, 2009, Eric Dahl unknowingly purchased the stolen instrument from a pawn shop in Las Vegas, and was contacted by a Gibson Artist Relations representative, who informed Dahl of the stolen status of the guitar. This Lucille was returned to King in late November 2009.
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