Blake Baker Cunningham, Jr.
The Washington Post reports that long time musician, songwriter, frontman – and bass player for the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis – BB Cunningham died during an altercation this weekend. A 16 year old involved in the shooting has also been reported dead.
The shootout began when the 16 year old traded gunfire with a 22 year old near the Memphis apartment complex where Cunningham worked as a security guard. Authorities believe that Cunningham went to investigate the shots heard and then began chasing the teen and the 22 year old.
A coworker of Cunningham then heard a second series of shots. When police arrived at the scene they had found Cunningham and the teen – identified as Henry White – both dead at the scene from gunshot wounds.
Police then charged and arrested 22 year old Dock Britt – who fled the scene of the crime but was found shortly thereafter – for first degree murder in the slaying of Cunningham but investigators are still trying to determine who killed White.
Cunningham’s son, Joseph Cunningham, revealed that his father had been working security for the complex because of a “steady paycheck.”
“Most of Jerry Lee’s band, as a matter of fact, have jobs on the side because Jerry doesn’t tour consistently enough for them to make a living at it,” said the younger Cunningham, and added: “Music was his life. He was given a God-given talent. He not only played, but he helped young musicians ... He was loved and well-respected.”
The 70 year old rock veteran had devoted over half a century of life working in the music business with several different roles and projects that spanned much farther than simply a bass player for Lewis.
As a teenager, Cunningham helped run the family’s record label and soon after in 1954, Sun Studio producer Sam Phillips asked Cunningham to add some percussion to a session by a then-young Elvis Presley.
He went on the front the touring band the Six O’Clock Boys which later became the Homebres – who in 1967 scored a No. 12 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with the track “Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out).”
A former Air Force military officer, Cunningham had also worked with several big names in music such as Billy Joel and Elton John.
Sadly, in the end, it turned out that Cunningham’s most redeeming quality led him to his most unfortunate fate. As Joseph Cunningham put it, “He loved protecting people and standing up for people’s rights and watching their back.”