BB King was not always nice to Norman Matthews, his longtime tour manager, yet they were incredibly close friends. The relationship was loaded. Norman was on BB’s payroll and they were always on the road. Rarely leaving the hotel room or touring bus except to hit the stage.
BB was demanding. Norman was there for him. They were both pretty old and not so mobile. Yet, they moved! BB keeps the temperature of any room he is in cranked up. One of Norman’s jobs was to keep BB in his comfort zone. They were like two crazy characters growling and barking - then going into a hotel room and playing cards forever between gigs.
Norman was so gruff on the outside, then so sweet and helpful slipping merch into every hand. His pockets were always full of buttons and guitar picks - BB merch he gave out like candy. He would slip you a handful of “BB KING” guitar picks and be off before you could thank him. He kept a watchful eye on everything going on around the King.
Norman died last Sunday. The only thing I could find online was this on BB’s Facebook page: " It is with deep sorrow that we announce Norman Matthews, our tour manager & dear friend passed away on May 11th 2014."
I took these pictures in a hotel ballroom next door to Camden Yards last August.