Bye-bye BB, BB bye-bye

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LEGENDARY bluesman BB King is set to play Edinburgh in what is likely to be his last concert on Scottish soil.

The self-proclaimed “Ambassador of the Blues” is currently gearing up for a whistle-stop world tour and was secured at short notice for a one-night-only gig at the Playhouse this summer.

But despite being in the twilight of a glittering career, the 85 year old is cautious about labelling the forthcoming dates as a swansong, having reneged on a pledge to never again tour overseas in 2006.

Currently the Blues icon has around 35 dates on his itinerary – including stops in Australia, France, Germany and Italy – but is pencilled in to grace the boards in the Capital on Sunday, June 26.

The booking has been hailed as a major coup for the Capital’s summer programme.

Promoter Mark Mackie, of Edinburgh-based Regular Music, which has previously run gigs for Oasis, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna, said his team was delighted to have secured the date.

“This is one of the things we have been working on and only tied it up in the last few days,” said Mr Mackie. “We were asked to see if we could find him a date after a slot arose and we thought ‘let’s get him to Edinburgh’.”

The city last hosted BB King at a memorable open-air gig in Princes Street Gardens in 2001.

Five years later he announced his retirement from the overseas circuit, raising doubts he would ever return to the Capital.

This was sad news from a serial touring artist who during the 1950s was averaging 275 concerts a year, and in 1956 alone notched up a staggering 342 gigs.

But even at 85, the acclaimed blues musician, named the third greatest guitar player of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, remains a major draw.

“Whatever age he is we are lucky to have him here,” said Mr Mackie. “It’s a delight to work with another household name and it’s a real honour as he is a living legend.”

He added: “The Playhouse is one of the best theatres around so we are very, very pleased that he will be playing there. Arenas are one thing but when you see a genuine icon in somewhere like the Playhouse it feels like he’s playing to you in your own front room. He had an unforgettable concert here about ten years ago and we expect more of the same.”

Tickets go on sale this Friday at the venue from 10am.

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com