The sound that you're listening to
is from my guitar that's named Lucille.
I'm very crazy about Lucille.
Lucille took me from the plantation,
Oh you might say,
brought me fame.
I don't think I could just talk enough about Lucille.
Sometime when I'm blue
seem like Lucille try to help me call my name.

I used to sing spirituals
and I thought that this
was the thing that I wanted to do.
But somehow or another when I went in the army
I picked up on Lucille,
and started singin' blues.

Possibly the most famous set of strings ever made, "Lucille" is the name of the guitar played by American blues legend B.B. King.

Not just any one guitar, mind you, because he's been known to play a lot of them. His first guitar, in 1949, was a second-hand Stella acoustic. Ever since, each guitar he's owned has been "Lucille" to him.

The most famous Lucille and the one he's been playing for the last 27 years, is an ebony and pearl, six-string archtop, custom Gibson ES-355, constructed with an extra wide semihollow body and no soundholes.

Though he's wailed on everything from Gretsch to Silverstone to Fender, B.B. will readily confess that he's always been partial toward Gibson guitars. Since the early 80's, Gibson has even made "the Lucille" into a standard model, a near-exact replica of King's classic 355. They currently sell for around $2000.

Really, though, as anyone with two ears could tell you, those thousand dollar copycats still sound like cheap imitations compared to the real deal. There'll never be another guitar quite like Lucille.

Because Lucille isn't just a guitar. She isn't really a guitar at all. If anything, Lucille is Mr. King's name for his own personal "Muse of Blues". Lucille is his eternal connection to the bayous, the plantations and all his down home Southern roots. Lucille is his own ecclectic electric spiritual collection of "all the people with soul".

All right, I'll admit it. Like the great bluesman says, "I'm very crazy about Lucille."

. . .

Oh, so maybe you're still wondering why he named the guitar "Lucille"?

There's a story that Mr. King has told at many of his concerts, where he does his best to explain about the unique relationship he has with Lucille. You can catch it on most of his more notable Best Of... compilations.

Towards the end of the story, he tells about a gig he played when he was young, at a blues joint in Twist, Arkansas, where some guys started a bar brawl and a woman ended up quite literally "burning the house down" by knocking over a kerosene heater. Between trying to save his guitar and this lady, the bluesman was almost burned alive. As it turns out, the woman he saved that night was named Lucille. "And," says B.B., "that's been Lucille ever since for me!"

B.B. King wasn't the only man to christen a treasured item "Lucille".

"Banks Shot", the twenty-second episode of the first season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, finds lawyer Philip Banks and his butler, Geoffrey, traveling to a pool hall to recover Philip's Mercedes-Benz, which his nephew, Will Smith, has lost to hustlers. Philip gets pressured into playing for stakes; his inept manner ("Geoffrey, get me one of those stick thingies") and losing streak suggest he won't be getting his car back. But when the hustlers agree to raise the stakes to $100 a ball, Philip's demeanor changes immediately: "Geoffrey, break out Lucille." From out Geoffrey's waistband emerges what can only be Phil's cue of choice. Cue montage of Philip hustling the hustlers to the tune of "Soul Man". Unfortunately, the viewer is never given any backstory about Lucille. One could presume that Philip acquired her during his pool hall days that he mentions to Will, but that's as far as one can go.

"Lucille" is also the name of the barbed wire-wrapped, wooden bat wielded by Negan, an antagonist in The Walking Dead. Negan's very crazy about her—he talks about Lucille like she's a living person, and he's almost always shown carrying her; once, when a woman accidentally shot Lucille, Negan had a member of her group executed. Negan wields Lucille against both humans and walkers. In particular, he commits gory, painful, public executions with her, and uses threats of such fates to intimidate others. In the Walking Dead comic series, Negan's late wife is named "Lucille"; presumably this is where the bat got her name. In the TV series, no such backstory is provided.

Interesting similarities, probably coincidental, between guitar-Lucille, cue-Lucille, and bat-Lucille. All three are wooden recreational implements that, by accident or by intention, now have meanings beyond mere entertainment.

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