R.I.P. B.B. King

Posted by Billyjam, May 15, 2015 06:19am | Post a Comment

"King of The Blues" B.B. King, the legendary American guitarist and singer/songwriter, died late last night at his Las Vegas home. He was 89 years of age and had enjoyed a prolific recording and performing career spanning seven decades. According to a report this morning by the Associated Press, who interviewed the blues icon's attorney Brent Bryson, King reportedly died "peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. PDT" last night (Thursday, May 14) with the local county coroner confirming the death, and that "funeral arrangements were underway" for the 15-time Grammy winner.

The son of sharecroppers, he was born Riley B. King on a Mississippi cotton plantation in 1925 but would go on to enjoy an illustrious lifelong career that  would include him performing at the White House in 2012 where the President of the United States would join him singing "Sweet Home Alabama." In that long legendary career, in which he got dubbed "the king of the blues" even though his music would transcend the blues, B.B. King recorded dozens of albums, won 15 Grammy awards, made his Gibson guitar a household name ("Lucille"), and introduced blues to a whole new audience in the '60s, all the while influencing a generation of guitar players, including a young Eric Clapton. He also earned a rep for working hard. Much like the late James Brown (aka "the hardest working man in showbiz") King had earned a rep for tirelessly gigging, typically between 250 days to 340 days out of the year. Although after turning 80 in 2005 he vowed to cut down to just 100 shows a year! In recent years poor health, mainly diabetes, had begun to take its toll on King who collapsed last October during a show in Chicago. Since then he had been in hospice care at his Nevada home.

B.B. King - whose name originated from an abbreviation of his younger days nick name Beale Street Blues Boy - began his career singing with a gospel quartet on the radio in Mississippi. Soon after he relocated to Memphis, Tennessee to become a DJ at WDIA radio which helped springboard his music performing career. At age 26 he scored his first hit single, 1951's “Three O'Clock Blues,” that would launch an unstoppable musical career. An inductee of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, King won a string of Grammys including his first in 1971 for best male rhythm ‘n’ blues performance for “The Thrill Is Gone.” A live performance of that song plus some other video performances from over the years by B.B. King, including "There Must Be a Better World Somewhere" which includes an interview with B.B. King on the topic of his beloved guitar Lucille - are included below.


B.B. King "Blues Boys Tune"

B.B. King "The Thrill Is Gone"

B.B. King with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jim Vaughn "Rock Me Baby"

B.B. King “There Must Be a Better World Somewhere”

B.B. King “One Kind Favor”

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King Of The Blues (1), B.b. King (5), B.b. King R.i.p. (1), Blues Music (1)