Last Look Inside BB King’s High-Tech Tour Bus

Legendary guitarist B.B. King never got the blues inside his tour bus, which is complete with serious AV, touch panels, security, lighting control and surround sound.

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Editor’s Note: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner B.B. King died Thursday at 89. The legendary blues guitarist delighted audiences for more than six decades with his trusty sidekick, Lucille. Here’s a look at his life on the road. This article was published on CI sister publication CE Pro a couple years ago.

For legendary blues guitarist BB King, the thrill isn’t gone when it comes to touring. The ‘King of the Blues’ is still on the road with his famous Gibson guitar ‘Lucille’ performing 100 concerts per year. And BB gets from gig to gig on more than just a simple set of wheels.

BB rides in a $1 million, 45–foot luxury motor coach that has more than $135,000 worth of electronics inside, making it a centre of inspiration for laying down tracks, reviewing audio and video, keeping up to date on news and communicating with his fans and crew. But, most importantly, he’s entertained by a first-class AV setup.

The interior design of the Prevost XL motor coach was done by Superior Coach Interiors in Nashville, Tenn., while the electronics were installed by Digital Home Lifestyles of Phoenix, Ariz.

Photos: Inside BB King’s High-Tech Tour Bus

The tour bus has seven miles of cabling from Liberty Cable, five miles of Cat5 wiring and 3,000 feet of CresNET. The pre-wiring was done before the walls on the tour bus went up, requiring large bulks of wiring in channels and luggage bays that run the length of the vehicle.

BB has a music and video server system that allows him to access a collection of more than 20,000 CDs, 6,000 DVDs and “more VHS tapes than I have ever seen,” according to Daniel Henderson of Digital Home Lifestyles.

Daniel met BB King’s tour manager several years ago when he was brought in to troubleshoot signal quality issues on BB’s previous tour bus. The job, which was bid on a fixed fee basis, according to Jeff Beall, president and CEO of Digital Home Lifestyles, took 100 hours of design time and 300 hours of installation. The company used a CAIP programmer, Infusebox, for the programming.

Electronics

The electronics on the bus would make any integrator blush. There’s a distributed audio/video system with eight zones of video and nine zones of audio. The front and rear lounges have 7.1 surround sound systems that are fed through a combination of dedicated and distributed sources.

The sources include:

  • 4 DirecTV HR21-PRO DVRs (1 dedicated to the rear lounge, 3 for distributing audio and video)
  • 4 Kaleidescape 1080p players (1 dedicated to the rear lounge, 3 for distributed AV)
  • 1 Kaleidescape 3U server
  • 1 Crestron iPod dock that is distributed throughout the coach
  • 4 individual iPod docks for each bunk
  • 1 Crestron XM tuner (distributed to all zones with feedback on all the touch panels
  • 1 AM/FM radio (distributed with feedback on all the touch panels)
  • 2 Integra Blu-ray DVD players (1 dedicated to the rear lounge and 1 dedicated to the front lounge)
  • 1 PS3 and 1 Xbox 360 in the front lounge
  • 1 Sony Professional DAT Player (dedicated to the rear lounge)
  • 1 Aiphone back-up camera (for driver’s touch panel)
  • 1 Aiphone PTZ front door security camera (distributed to all TVs and touch panels)

There also are auxiliary input jacks for computers, HDMI, AV, etc. in the front and rear lounges. Ethernet (Gigabit) connections are offered in each lounge, bunk and sitting area. The coach has a full-time broadband connection with remote access for diagnostics and programming updates. The coach also has the ability to track weather on any touch panel.