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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bar Takes Alias for B.B. King's Visit

To be B.B. King or not to be B.B. King. What's in a name?


Tuesday night, the famous blues performer B.B. King visited his namesake bar in downtown Moscow after the first of two Moscow concerts, only to find that the bar had renamed itself the Blues Bar, scraped his name off the menu and left only a few photographs of him on a back wall.


Asked why the nightclub had apparently decided to throw away its best possible promotion opportunity, Charlie Donovan, manager of the bar, said he and the four owners had decided to change the name because they were afraid that King might be upset with the breach of his copyrighted name and refuse to come.


"We'd do anything to get him here," Donovan said. "We've changed the street sign, rewrote the menus, and the waiters have erased the name from their minds.


"It will go back to B.B. King as soon as he leaves the country," he added.


Despite the considerable efforts to change the name, King found out about the nightclub -- and its real name -- on Monday night when a reporter at a Moscow press conference asked him if he would perform at B.B. King. King responded that he hadn't heard of the bar and had made no plans to visit there.


After the press conference, Larry Seidenberg, a lawyer and photographer who works for King's management company, said he did not see any trademark problems with the bar's name. "Not right now. It's so small," he said. "It sounds like good promotion."


King himself owns two nightclubs in the United States that bear his name.


When King stopped by the bar after Tuesday's concert he did not seem to mind the charade. With a big grin, a big belly and a shiny green B.B. King baseball jacket, King stayed in the bar for just over an hour.


After he left, Dmitry Braude, one of the club's four owners, was visibly awed by the visit. "We used to have a party. Now B.B. King has been here -- we have the soul of blues," Braude said.