December 16, 2018

B.B. King: A Legend

The recent passing of legendary B.B. King is a huge loss for the world of blues.  Long known as the King of Blues, B.B. King helped bring blues to a worldwide audience.

Born September 16, 1925, Riley B. King grew up in a family of Mississippi sharecroppers.  From the age of 4, he was raised by his grandmother.  King sang gospel as a child and picked up guitar at the age of 12.  While taking a break from his job on a plantation in 1941, he first heard the King Biscuit Time radio show, featuring Mississippi Delta blues, on the radio.  That moment was when Riley B. King knew he wanted to be a radio artist.  By 1949, he was recording songs with RPM Records.

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King began touring extensively with his own band, performing in major theaters as well as smaller venues.  By the 1950s, B.B. King had become on eof the most important names in R&B music.  Even late in his life, he continued his incredible performances.  An inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Official Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame as well as the recipient of numerous Grammys and other awards, B.B. King’s name is synonymous with exceptional blues music.

Almost as famous as B.B. King himself is his iconic guitar, Lucille.  The story of how Lucille got her name is truly great.  During a performance in Twist, Arkansas, a brawl broke out between two men in the audience.  The fight caused a fire, leading to the evacuation of the building.  B.B. King actually went back into the burning venue to rescue his beloved guitar.  When he later learned the fight had been over a woman names Lucille, he gave that name to his guitar as a reminder not to fight over women or run into burning buildings.  Lucille quickly became a fixture of B.B. King’s shows and is arguably one of the most famous guitars in musical history.

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On May 14, 2015, B.B. King passed away at home from complications of type 2 diabetes.  He leaves behind a musical legacy that will continue to inspire and influence generations.

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