According to locals who remember, during the early days of his career, B.B. King used to play in Covington.
As remembered by Covington alderwoman Minnie Bommer, Eugene “Nez” Eaton and his wife Katie Bell ran Eaton’s Cafe on North Main Street for nearly 20 years.
The cafe was located on the lot that is now greenspace next to the existing Burnett’s Bar B-Q, and there was an alley down the side of the building that lead to the cafés in the back.
Mrs. Katie Bell was the cook who ran the cafe; her food was considered the best on North Main.
Her husband “Mr. Nez” had a night club called the Blue Flame, which was located down the lane now called WKBL Drive.
Mr. Nez had most of the best-known blues singers of that day at the Flame.
Some of the big names that he helped were Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton and Rufus Thomas, to name a few.
His most famous person, known throughout the world, however, was B.B. King.
Mr. Nez is said to have let B.B. King play at the Flame every weekend until he went national.
Historian Hattye Yarbrough said teachers, at that time, were not allowed at the Blue Flame, so she’d drive her husband, Ordrell, down to collect tickets and she’d park the car close enough to hear him play.
“B.B. came back once or twice a year as long as Mr. Nez ran the club,” Bommer said. “B.B. King always gave Mr. Nez credit for starting his career. B.B. always had Mr. Nez stand so he could tell his audience he was from Covington, Tennessee and that he gave him his start.”
He did this whenever and wherever Mr. Nez showed up, she said.
“B.B. made sure if Mr. Nez wanted to come to any show, he could.”