The Thrill Is Gone

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"The Thrill Is Gone"
Single by B.B. King
from the album Completely Well
B-side "You're Mean"
Released December 1969
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded June 1969
Genre Blues, R&B, soul

5:24 (album version)

3:55 (single version)
Label Bluesway/ABC Records
Writer(s) Rick Darnell, Roy Hawkins
Producer(s) Bill Szymczyk
B.B. King singles chronology
"Just a Little Love"
"The Thrill Is Gone"
"So Excited"

"The Thrill Is Gone" is a slow minor-key blues song written by West coast blues musician Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951. Hawkins' recording of the song reached number six in the Billboard R&B chart in 1951.[1] In 1970, "The Thrill Is Gone" became a major hit for B.B. King. Subsequently, many blues and other artists have recorded their interpretations of the song.


"The Thrill is Gone" is a version of the similarly titled 1931 song by Broadway songwriters Lew Brown and Ray Henderson,[2] written for the Broadway revue George White's Scandals. The song was introduced by Rudy Vallée and His Connecticut Yankees on the Victor label in 1931 and rose to number ten of the charts.[3]

B.B. King versions[edit]

B.B. King recorded his version of "The Thrill Is Gone" in June 1969 for his album Completely Well, released the same year. King's version is a slow twelve-bar blues notated in the key of B minor in 4/4 time.[4] The song's polished production and use of strings marked a departure from both the original song and King's previous material. When released as a single in December 1969, the song became the biggest hit of King's career, appearing in the R&B chart at number three and the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart at number fifteen[5] and became one of his signature songs.

B.B. King's recording earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1970 and a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998. King's version of the song was also placed at number 183 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Memorable live versions of the song were included on King's albums Live in Cook County Jail (1971), Bobby Bland and B.B. King Together Again...Live (1976), and Live at San Quentin (1991).[6]

Other renditions[edit]

"The Thrill Is Gone" has been recorded by numerous artists since B.B. King's hit version,[7] including Aretha Franklin from the album Spirit in the Dark (1970) that was released as a B-side to her single, "Spirit in the Dark", Little Milton from Waiting for Little Milton (1973), Chicken Shack/Stan Webb from Poor Boy (The Deram Years 1972–1974) (1973), Luther Allison from Live in Paris (1979), The Crusaders from Royal Jam (1981), Barbara Mandrell from ...In Black and White (1982), Jerry Garcia and David Grisman from their eponymous album (1991), The Manhattan Transfer from Tonin' (1995), Dishwalla from the soundtrack to Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995), Diamanda Galas on her live album Malediction & Prayer (1998), Willie Nelson from Milk Cow Blues (2000), The Marshall Tucker Band from Stompin' Room Only (2003, recorded from a Volunteer Jam show in 1975), Pappo from Buscando un amor (2003), Leslie West from Got Blooze (2005), and The Eric Steckel Band from Havana (2006). M.C. Hammer's song by the same name from his Feel My Power album samples King's song. Christina Aguilera sang "The Thrill Is Gone" during 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Chart performance[edit]

Roy Hawkins version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1951 Billboard Rhythm & Blues Singles 6

B.B. King version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1970 Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles 3
Billboard Hot 100 15


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 184. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  2. ^ Morath, Max (2002). The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Popular Standards. The Berkeley Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-101-20311-8. 
  3. ^ Wilson, Jeremy. "The Thrill Is Gone (1931)". Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. p. 220. ISBN 0-7935-5259-1. 
  5. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 236.
  6. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "The Thrill Is Gone — Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Roy Hawkins — Songs composed by". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 

External links[edit]