Twist, B.B. King, & Lucille

On State Highway 42 in the Delta region of far northeast Arkansas is an almost deserted little town named Twist. As unlikely as it sounds, a little known incident in Twist led to a name all blues fans know.

One night in the mid-1950s, B.B. King, was performing at a club in Twist, Arkansas when two men got into a fight over a woman named Lucille and knocked over a kerosene stove. A fire resulted and in his haste to escape, King left his guitar inside the burning building. Not having money to replace it, he ran back inside to retrieve it and narrowly escaped death. From then on, as a reminder to never do such a foolhardy thing again and to never get into a fight over a woman, he has named all of his guitars Lucille. When he was 82-years-old, King said, “About 15 times a lady has said, ‘It’s either me or Lucille.’ And that’s why I’ve had 15 children by 15 different women.”

I'm not a huge fan of the blues, but I certainly know of B. B. King, have listened to his songs and have heard of his guitars named Lucille. When I saw an interview with him and he told the story of what happened in Twist, I decided to go see Twist for myself. Normally I make these little adventures by myself or sometimes with a male friend for company, but this time and much to my surprise, my wife and youngest daughter agreed to go with me and we made it a family outing. Heck, we even took along Riley the Wonder Dog.

Twist is about 2 1/2 hours by twisty back roads from my home. It's not that long if you take the interstate, but unless forced  by circumstances beyond my control, interstates are not for me. From Wooster, we passed through such bustling suburbs as Rose Bud, Bald Knob, Hickory Ridge, Cold Water, BirdEye, and Cherry Valley before arriving in Twist.

We arrived in Twist on a Saturday afternoon at 1:30 to find that except for two old dogs, the town was deserted. To call Twist a "town" is extremely optimistic. We saw not another car on the little 2-lane road during the last 15 minutes of driving there and never saw a another person in the 30 minutes we were there.

The Twist guard dog.
Even the two dogs were bored with the pace of life there. One of them laying beside the road gave one little bark when I pulled up within 10 feet of him and his buddy, but when I got out of the car with my camera, he decided I wasn't worth the effort and never moved from his comfy spot in the shade of a fence post. His buddy, perhaps a little more bored with being bored, got up and ambled across the street toward me. He barked a few times and then when I ignored him, he slowly angled away until laying down again in the side yard of one of the few houses that looked like someone might actually live there.

Sleepy town of Twist
Unfortunately the club where it all happened is apparently long gone as I could find no traces of it nor any resident old-timer to ask. I drove through town, but not a creature was stirring and when I came back through and stopped to take a few more pictures, even the lone watch-dog that was on the job just laid there in the grass, one eye open, watching me for a few seconds before ignoring me completely.

I guess Twist used to be a lot more than it is today, just another faded relic of times gone by with an interesting story to tell that begins with, "At one time..."