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

104 customer reviews

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(Jun 17, 2014)
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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.

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.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MVD VISUAL
  • DVD Release Date: June 17, 2014
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,288 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
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.
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew P. Wheeler on March 27, 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
So, the reason I cannot rate this five stars is because there are severe sound mixing issues with the DVD. If I could put on close captioning, that would address the issue. But this DVD does not allow me to put on closed captioning. It is a very simple, cheaply produced DVD with only the bare essentials. I think the DVD discmaker really cut some corners. How is the film? Well, the film would be great if I COULD ACTUALLY HEAR BB KING SPEAKING DURING INTERVIEWS. But any time the backing music comes on, it drowns out the voice of the narrator or anyone else speaking. I have tried this in different players and tvs and computers to no avail. The sound mix is just bad. There are AWESOME video clips, interviews, from the 40s to present day. This is an unbelievably well put together documentary about my favorite blues man of all time, The Chairman of the Board, the King of the Blues! But I have to say, the sound mix ruined it for me. Do I buy another? Or write to the company? I am so let down. I have been looking forward to this for months, literally.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase

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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Alf Katz on July 27, 2014
Format: DVD
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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B.B. King: The Life of Riley [Blu-ray]
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