Musician B.B. (Blake Baker) Cunningham Jr. was shot and killed Sunday in Memphis. Cunningham was a member of Jerry Lee Lewis’s band and the vocalist and keyboard player for 1960s’ rockers The Hombres.
The Hombres’s 1967 hit “Let It All Hang Out” has particular significance for me because my band The Nails covered it on our debut album and it was released as our first single for RCA records.
I grew up with “Let It All Hang Out” and always loved its indelible hook and surreal lyrics. Written and sung by Cunningham, the tune clearly pokes fun at the music of Bob Dylan and Cunningham’s sly vocals really makes it work. His laid back drawl with its southern twang delivers the Dylanesque lyrics with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheekiness to be funny without being stupid. Far better than your average novelty song, “Let It All Hang Out” has stood the test of time, endured and inspired guys like me to attempt to replicate its punk charm. But nobody will ever nail it as well as B.B Cunningham.
Cunningham was shot while working as security guard at an apartment complex on Memphis’ southeast side. He was 70 years old.