NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Just mention the name B.B. King and you will get the biggest smile out of Michael Doster.
“Man I had some of the best times of my life hanging out with the legend,” said Doster, a bass player, who for more than 17 years, toured with the late Blues legend all over the world.
“We went to Europe, Asia, South America and many parts of the world playing gigs and concerts. As band members, we were a family, and that’s how he (King) referred to us because sometime we would tour together for a whole year,” Doster said.
For the last nine years, Doster has been an assistant in the Brown-Daniel Library at Tennessee State University, his alma mater, where as a student in the early 1980s, he met fellow music student Walter King, B.B. King’s nephew. The younger King introduced Doster to his uncle.
Upon being hired, Doster said King asked him, “Son, do you want a job? I will guarantee you two weeks, and if you leave me, give me two week’s notice.”
“It was a handshake,” Doster said, “and it lasted 17 years.”
For his time with King, Doster, whose stage name was “Mighty Mike,” has been invited as an honored guest at the 3rd Annual B.B. King Day Symposium at Mississippi Valley State University on Sept. 7, and to participate on a panel about the “Chitlin Circuit Years.”
A special reception in Doster’s honor will follow the symposium at the historic Club Ebony in Indianola, Mississippi’s last Chitlin’ Circuit club, and a famous King hangout back in the day.
In a letter inviting Doster, Dr. Alphonso Sanders, of the B.B. King Recording Studio, wrote: “Your appearance and intellectual contribution is paramount to achieving music history and continuing the legacy of B.B. King.”
Doster’s current boss, Dr. Murle Kenerson, dean of Libraries and associate professor, said TSU is “extremely fortunate” to have the musician on staff because of his years of experience as a band member with the “world’s greatest performer.”
“In his 17 years with B.B. King, Michael traveled the world,” Kenerson said. “His worldly experience adds a unique aspect to his work in the library, especially when interacting with students who are potential music majors, and information seekers in general who are interested in the life and times of B.B. King.”
Prior to King, Doster toured with various musical acts, including three years with gospel legend, Dr. Bobby Jones, but it is his time with King from 1985 – 2002 that gives him the fondest memories. He recorded with King on some of his biggest hits, including the Grammy winning albums “Live at San Quentin,” “Blues on the Bayou,” and “A Christmas Celebration of Hope.”
Doster also performed with King on television shows such as “B.B. King and Friends,” “The Cosby Show,” “Jazz Central,” and in PBS’ 1999 “In Performance at the White House” for President Bill Clinton. He appeared with King in the films “Next of Kin,” and “Heart and Soul.”
“B. B. King was a kind and compassionate man. He was demanding to work for, but very fair,” said Doster, who returned every summer to play in the ‘Mississippi Homecoming’ that King hosted in honor of late civil rights leader Medgar Evers, at Club Ebony.
King died May 2015 at age 89.
“I am just extremely honored to be invited to such a historic event as the King Day Symposium,” Doster said. “The fact that I am able to be on a panel to discuss my experiences with him and my work at an HBCU, just mean so much to me.”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.