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B.B. King: The Life of Riley [Blu-ray] (2014)

B.B. King , Morgan Freeman  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: B.B. King, Morgan Freeman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MVD VISUAL
  • DVD Release Date: June 17, 2014
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

BB KING: The LIFE OF RILEY narrated by Morgan Freeman and joined by Bono, Bill Cosby, Eric Clapton, Bill Cosby, Dr. John, Bruce Willis and 20+ other heavyweight contributors including appearances by Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and President Obama. BB King opens his heart and tells the story of how an oppressed and orphaned young man came to influence and earn the unmitigated praise of the music industry and its following, to carry the title: 'KING OF THE BLUES'. Filmed on location all over America as well as in the United Kingdom, this picture brings to life the heat and gin-soaked plantations where it all began. With the full cooperation of the BB King Museum, owners of vaults and archives so precious and immense, that several trips had to be made to America to revisit the collection and partake of its many gems. Prejudice and segregation has stained the lives of countless black person and BB 'Riley' King made sure that through his music, he never allowed it to mar his spirit. This is the essence of the story that makes an astoundingly beautiful film; extremely informative and visually captivating.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
It's hard to belief that blues Legend B.B. King will turn 90 years-old next year and still tours the world, "three weeks on; three weeks off". Until recently he would play over 300 nights each year.

Surprisingly, no one had made a filmed bio of his life and career - until now, that is. This new film (2014) has been making rounds of the film festivals and now comes to home video on Bluray and DVD (and there is a companion CD as well - from universal Music Group. (I was provided an advance screener of the BD). (UPDATE 6/17- There will not be a physical CD release of the soundtrack; it will only be available as download with no notes or booklet.)

This is a must see for anyone interested in the blues, whether pioneers like Robert Johnson, Bukka White (B.B. King's cousin) or the other famous blues "King"s - Albert and Freddie, or even "the next generation" like Clapton, Jonny Lang or Derek Trucks. Director Jon Brewer weaves some archival interviews with lots of contemporary ones along with historic photos (most, it seems from the B.B. King Museum in Mississippi). Brewer got nearly every one you can think of (and some who don't often give interviews) to sit down and tell their stories. Let me start with just a FEW folks who he got on camera: Ringo Starr, LeonRRussell, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Green, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Winter, Slash, Carlos Santana, Bono, Aaron Nevelle, Susan Teseschi, Derek Trucks and Micj Taylor. Impressed? You should be. Most has a chance to play with, or record with King.

But there are not just celebrities here. B.B.'s 2nd wife discusses the effect of his touring on their marriage and relatives and original band members are here too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is a full length biography of one of the greatest and most influential blues artists of the 20th century. The first half of the documentary will be enjoyed by diehard blues fans telling the story of B.B.'s rise from a shack in Mississippi to become the most popular and succesful blues artist with African-American audiences including interviews with family, friends, fellow musicians and Joe Bihari, one of the owners of Modern, where B.B. had his many great early hits. Much of the commentary is by B.B. himself drawing on recent and vintage interviews with some of the gaps being filled by Morgan Freeman. By the time he had recorded his groundbreaking live album "Live At The Regal" he was beginning to get recognition by white audiences and in particular the English blues and blue-rock bands and much of commentary in the second half of the documetary is with members of the Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Jonny Lang, Bono, Bruce Willis and many more. Obviously these people are significant to B.B.'s later career but it seems to me that too much time is spent discussing the significance of these artists which seems gratuitous particularly considering how much material they are trying to cram into 115 minutes. After about 1964 we see practically no African-American faces other than B.B. even though he influenced hundreds of black blues musicians who are continuing his tradition but since many of those artists working today don't have worldwide recognition I guess they are not considered important. Watching this documentary you really don't get an appreciation for how much impact B.B. had on other African-American blues musicians and African-American music in general. To sum up I found the first half of the documentary consistently rewarding, the second half unbearably dull and obnoxious. Caveat emptor. (FS)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Dj

Starts with BB's birth; progresses thru youth and exposure to hearing and playing music; to performing locally and....eventually...performing all over the word.

Ends with thoughts about his end of life.

I felt every emotion available to me. I am going to buy a few. This man has influenced world wide musicians; has met presidents, religious leaders, etc......AND HAS REMAINED HUMBLE. In fact, every year he returns to his "little" hometown.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good July 10, 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Really Awesome movie. Lots of things to learn, both about the King of the Blues and about the troubled times of segregation. Also lots of things to learn about old blues artists that influenced BB King. Movie to be watched over and over. Love the movie, love BB, love the blues!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B.B. King: The Life of Riley on Blu Ray. Must have. September 12, 2014
If you have any love or interest in the blues no matter who your favorite blues master is, BB King must be in contention for the title and this Blu Ray is must viewing and viewing again to gain any understand of the man, the guitarist, blues, and its history.

Using a great amount of archival footage as well as current and past interviews from the blues progeny of King such as Bonnie Raitt, several former and current members of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, John Mayall and even Ringo Starr pay him verbal homage. But to me, the best and most interesting part of this 2 hour film is the use of archival footage and interviews of close as well as distant members of the King family, to explain and explore both the origins of the blues as well as the development of BB King to grow to be the master that he is. BB King himself is frequently included in the discussions and explanations and lends thoughtful and sincere credence to both the success of the blues, how it crossed over to white audiences and his rise in fame.

The quality of the blu ray itself is good..nothing great, the archival footage appears as truly old as it is, and that's the way it should be. The lossy audio codec, although 5.1 is really more 2.0 but, for this biography of BB King, I do not think it makes any difference.

While BB King may be 89 years old now, this film was made when he was 85 and considerably past his prime as a guitarist and singer. One of the extras are a couple of songs recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in England and though Ron Wood, Slash and others sit in on 'The Thrill is Gone', it is clear that the guitar is now used more as a prop than an instrument that BB is playing. But his voice is still there if not as powerful as it once was.

As I initially said, this DVD is very, very worth having and watching multiple times.
I do hope that this review has been of some help to you in deciding upon your purchase.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a,survivor.
Wonderful tribute to one of the all time great blues guitarists. This biography captures the essence of a truly remarkable man.
Published 4 days ago by Dodge ball Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars I was hooked right from the start
BB KING: The LIFE OF RILEY narrated by Morgan Freeman was truly enlightening, informative and very interesting. Read more
Published 6 days ago by gobirds2
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must have for music fans
Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by Carlos Romero
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
We all have a story...Great to learn the path of the, "Dynamic Gentleman of the Blues" - Mr. B.B. King!
Published 19 days ago by jerseylover
5.0 out of 5 stars The King of the Blues
B.B. King is a must see, if at all possible. He literally holds the audience in his capable hands, and provides an excellent performance, so this film really shines as it gives us... Read more
Published 28 days ago by R. Vincent
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful footage of B
Wonderful footage of B.B. King's early concerts - wow, what a simply amazing vocal range he had when he was around 40. And his guitar playing is red hot. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Phil Doherty
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great film about a man the is truly one of a kind. Well worth watching.
Published 1 month ago by Joseph L Livingston
4.0 out of 5 stars The Thrill is Anything But Gone
Don't be confused by the title: this is a very well done, detailed doc about the life of B.B. King. I found it most engaging and it includes some startling footage. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steven Kerry
4.0 out of 5 stars B.B. King from Sharecropper to Musical icon
B.B. King: The Life of Riley (Emperor Media/MVDVisual) is a documentary film by John Brewer that traces the King of the Blues career from his days growing up as a poor Black in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. Weinstock
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