MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Saturday night's annual Blues Ball recognized some of the Bluff City's musical greats, paid tribute a late icon, and unveiled a plan to permanently change the name of a Downtown street to honor a living legend.
Late superstar Isaac Hayes' presence was very much missed. This was the first year in the event's 15 year history without a performance from the man known as "Black Moses". The 2008 Blues Ball was dedicated to his life and work.
"Of course, this is the first year that Isaac has not been with us," said Blues Ball founder Pat Kerr Tigrett. "He has played for us every year for 14 years, and has been our honorary chairman every year. So, we really miss him."
Tigrett pushed to pass an Act of Congress to honor living musical legend B.B.King: Third Street will become B.B. King Highway.
"It's the same street that, of course, BB came from when he came from Mississippi to Beale Street when he was a young, young man - almost a child - to begin his career," she said.
Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkieouicz says it's incredibly important to honor our musicians.
"Really, it's a very hard life, and a few will be famous and make some money," he said. "But the vast majority of musicians that make our lives better don't get that recognition. Pat allows that to happen here at the Blues Ball."
Each year, the Blues Ball attracts famous faces from around the country. You never know who will come out to honor our local musicians.
Buzz Aldrin, the first pilot to land on the moon and second man to set foot on its surface, was walking in Memphis Saturday night.
"Entertaining, and just...everything. People are so friendly here," he said.
Aldrin's wife Lois was also impressed with Memphis, and with the city's most famous musician.
She made her first trip to Graceland Saturday.
"To think that incredibly talented man lived here in Memphis...it's amazing," she said.
Her astronaut husband admits that he's not so musically inclined.
"Well, I have a hard time carrying a tune," Aldrin said.
Tables at the Blues Ball range from $2,500 to $50,000 for sponsor tables. Proceeds benefit charities including St. Jude and LeBonheur, and also provide help for Memphis musicians who need health insurance.