B.B. King is 88 today. Many more B.B. Many more.
King doesn’t play chords or slide; instead, he bends individual strings till the notes seem to cry. His style reflects his upbringing in the Mississippi Delta and coming of age in Memphis. Seminal early influences included such bluesmen as T-Bone Walker (whose “Stormy Monday,” King has said, is “what really started me to play the blues”), Lonnie Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson and Bukka White. A cousin of King’s, White schooled the fledgling guitarist in the idiom when he moved to Memphis. King also admired jazz guitarists Charlie Christian and Django Reinhart. Horns have played a big part in King’s music, and he’s successfully combined jazz and blues in a big-band context.
“I’ve always felt that there’s nothing wrong with listening to and trying to learn more,” King has said. “You just can’t stay in the same groove all the time.” This willingness to explore and grow explains King’s popularity across five decades in a wide variety of venues, from funky juke joints to posh Las Vegas lounges.
Elsewhere, Betty Joan Perske is 89. As Lauren Bacall she was nominated for best actress in a supporting role for her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces. Bacall was 20 when she married Humphrey Bogart (he was 45) and just 32 when he died. She was married to Jason Robards from 1961-1969.
George Chakiris is 79. You know, Bernardo.
Elgin Baylor is 79.
Had Elgin Baylor been born 25 years later, his acrobatic moves would have been captured on video, his name emblazoned on sneakers, and his face plastered on cereal boxes. But he played before the days of widespread television exposure, so among the only records of his prowess that remain are the words of those who saw one of the greatest ever to play.
Mickey Rourke is 61. But doesn’t look a day older than 81. Rourke, of course, got his one Oscar nomination for The Wrestler.
Robin Yount is 58.
Robin Yount was a productive hitter who excelled in the field at two of baseball’s most challenging positions – shortstop and center field. Playing his entire 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers, he collected more hits in the 1980s than any other player and finished with an impressive career total of 3,142. An every day major leaguer at age 18, Yount earned MVP awards at two positions and his 1982 MVP campaign carried the Brewers to the World Series.
David Copperfield is 57. If he was truly magic, he’d turn himself into 37.
Jennifer Tilly is 55. Tilly received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress for Bullets Over Broadway. Better yet she was the voice of Celia, Mike’s love interest, in Monsters, Inc.
Marc Anthony is 45.
Amy Poehler is 42.
Peter Falk and Jack Kelly, the other Maverick, Bart, were both born on this date in 1927. Falk died in 2011, Kelly in 1992.
The immortal Charlie Byrd was born this date in 1925.