B.B. King

Last updated
B.B. King
B.B. King in 2009.jpg
King at the 2009 North Sea Jazz Festival
Background information
Birth nameRiley B. King
Born(1925-09-16)September 16, 1925
Itta Bena, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedMay 14, 2015(2015-05-14) (aged 89)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • guitarist
  • songwriter
  • record producer
InstrumentsGuitar, Vocals
Years active1948–2015
Labels
Website bbking.com

Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known professionally as B.B. King, was an American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists. [2]

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and the folk music of white Americans of European heritage. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds or fifths flattened in pitch, are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In the 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

String bending is a guitar technique where fretted strings are displaced by application of a force by the fretting fingers in a direction perpendicular to their vibrating length. This has the net effect of increasing the pitch of a note. String-bending allows exploration of microtonality and can be used to give a distinctive vocal articulation to lead guitar passages.

Contents

King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of the Blues", and is considered one of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with Albert and Freddie King). [3] [4] [5] King was known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing on average at more than 200 concerts per year into his 70s. [6] In 1956 alone, he reportedly appeared at 342 shows. [7]

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hall of fame located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983, by Atlantic Records founder and chairman Ahmet Ertegun. In 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the Hall of Fame's permanent home.

Honorific nicknames in popular music are terms used, most often in the media or by fans, to indicate the significance of an artist, and are often religious, familial, or royal and aristocratic titles, used metaphorically. Honorific nicknames were used in classical music in Europe as early as the early nineteenth century, with figures such as Mozart being called "The father of modern music" and Bach "The father of modern piano music". They were also particularly prominent in African-American culture in the post-Civil War era, perhaps as a means of conferring status that had been negated by slavery, and as a result entered early jazz and blues music, including figures such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Albert King American blues guitarist and singer

Albert Nelson, known by his stage name Albert King, was an American blues guitarist and singer whose playing influenced many other blues guitarists. He is perhaps best known for the popular and influential album Born Under a Bad Sign (1967) and its title track.

King was born on a cotton plantation in Berclair, Mississippi, and later worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi. He was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints and local radio. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, and toured the world extensively. King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14, 2015.

Berclair, Mississippi Unincorporated community in Mississippi, United States

Berclair is an unincorporated community located in Leflore County, Mississippi, United States. Berclair is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Itta Bena. It is part of the Greenwood, Mississippi micropolitan area.

Cotton gin machine that separates cotton fibers from seeds

A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, enabling much greater productivity than manual cotton separation. The fibers are then processed into various cotton goods such as linens, while any undamaged cotton is used largely for textiles like clothing. The separated seeds may be used to grow more cotton or to produce cottonseed oil.

Indianola, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Indianola is a city in Sunflower County, Mississippi, United States, in the Mississippi Delta. The population was 12,066 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Sunflower County.

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Oral History, B.B. King reflects on his greatest musical influences. interview date August 3, 2005, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Early life

Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925, [8] on the Berclair cotton plantation near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi, [9] [10] the son of sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King. [10] He considered the nearby city of Indianola, Mississippi to be his home. [11] When King was four years old, his mother left his father for another man, so he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi. [10]

Itta Bena, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Itta Bena is a city in Leflore County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 2,049 at the 2010 census. The town's name is derived from the Choctaw phrase iti bina, meaning "forest camp". Itta Bena is part of the Greenwood, Mississippi micropolitan area. It developed as a trading center of an area of cotton plantations.

Kilmichael, Mississippi Town in Mississippi, United States

Kilmichael is a town in Montgomery County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 830 at the 2000 census.

While young, King sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. King was attracted to the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ because of its music. The local minister performed with a Sears Roebuck Silvertone guitar during services. The minister taught King his first three chords. [12] It seems that at the age of 12 he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, [10] although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother's first cousin (King's grandmother and White's mother were sisters). [13]

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.

Pentecostalism Renewal movement within Protestant Christianity

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Church of God in Christ Pentecostal-Holiness Christian denomination

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is a Pentecostal-Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. The denomination reports having more than 12,000 churches and over 6.5 million members in the United States making it the largest Pentecostal church in the country. The National Council of Churches ranks it as the fifth largest Christian denomination in the U.S.

In November 1941, "King Biscuit Time" first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. King listened to it while on break at a plantation. A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician. [14]

King Biscuit Time is the longest-running daily American radio broadcast in history. The program is broadcast each weekday from KFFA in Helena, Arkansas, United States, and has won the George Foster Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence. In 2018, certain selections of King Biscuit Time from 1965 were selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

KFFA (AM)

KFFA is an American radio station licensed by the FCC to serve the community of Helena, Arkansas. The station is owned by Monte Spearman and Gentry Todd Spearman, through licensee High Plains Radio Network, LLC.

Helena, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Helena is the eastern portion of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, a city in Phillips County, Arkansas. As of the 2000 census, this portion of the city population was 6,323. Helena was the county seat of Phillips County until January 1, 2006, when it merged its government and city limits with neighboring West Helena.

In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John's Gospel Singers of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi. [15] [16]

In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months. [10] However, King returned to Mississippi shortly afterward, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit, and returned to West Memphis, Arkansas, two years later in 1948. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop an audience. King's appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis, and later to a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. [17] The radio spot became so popular that it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club. [18]

He worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, where he was given the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "Blues Boy", and finally to B.B. [19] [20] [21] It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. King said, "Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have [an electric guitar] myself. 'Had' to have one, short of stealing!" [22]

Career

1949–2005

King playing his favorite guitar, Lucille, in the 1980s BBKingNY.jpg
King playing his favorite guitar, Lucille, in the 1980s

In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. Before his RPM contract, King had debuted on Bullet Records by issuing the single, "Miss Martha King" (1949), which did not chart well. "My very first recordings [in 1949] were[sic] for a company out of Nashville called Bullet, the Bullet Record Transcription company," King recalled. "I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin, played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player. The Newborn family were the house band at the famous Plantation Inn in West Memphis." [23]

King assembled his own band; the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee. The band initially consisted of Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), [24] Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano), George Joyner (bass) and Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums). Onzie Horne was a trained musician elicited as an arranger to assist King with his compositions. By his own admission, King could not play chords well and always relied on improvisation. [25]

King's recording contract was followed by tours across the United States, with performances in major theaters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and St. Louis, as well as numerous gigs in small clubs and juke joints of the southern United States. During one show in Twist, Arkansas, a brawl broke out between two men and caused a fire. He evacuated along with the rest of the crowd but went back to retrieve his guitar. He said he later found out that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named the guitar Lucille, as a reminder not to fight over women or run into any more burning buildings. [26] [27] [28]

The story of a guitar named Lucille Twist AR BB king Marker 1.jpg
The story of a guitar named Lucille

Following his first Billboard Rhythm and Blues charted number one, "3 O'Clock Blues" (February 1952), [29] B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music in the 1950s, amassing an impressive list of hits [21] including "You Know I Love You", "Woke Up This Morning", "Please Love Me", "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer", "Whole Lotta Love", "You Upset Me Baby", "Every Day I Have the Blues", "Sneakin' Around", "Ten Long Years", "Bad Luck", "Sweet Little Angel", "On My Word of Honor", and "Please Accept My Love". This led to a significant increase in his weekly earnings, from about $85 to $2,500, [30] with appearances at major venues such as the Howard Theater in Washington and the Apollo in New York, as well as touring the "Chitlin' circuit". 1956 became a record-breaking year, with 342 concerts booked and three recording sessions. [31] That same year he founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. There, among other projects, he was a producer for artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury. [11] In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records, which was later absorbed into MCA Records (which itself was later absorbed into Geffen Records). In November 1964, King recorded the Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater. [29] King later said that Regal Live "is considered by some the best recording I've ever had . . . that particular day in Chicago everything came together . . ." [32]

From the late 1960s, new manager Sid Seidenberg pushed King into a different type of venue as blues-rock performers like Eric Clapton (once a member of The Yardbirds, as well as Cream), and Paul Butterfield were popularizing an appreciation of blues music among white audiences. [33] King gained further visibility among rock audiences as an opening act on the Rolling Stones' 1969 American Tour. [34] He won a 1970 Grammy Award for his version of the song "The Thrill Is Gone;" [35] which was a hit on both the Pop and R&B charts. It also gained the number 183 spot in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time . [36]

King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014. [6] [37] In 2004, he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists "in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music." [38]

From the 1980s to his death in 2015, he maintained a highly visible and active career, appearing on numerous television shows and sometimes performing 300 nights a year. In 1988, King reached a new generation of fans with the single "When Love Comes to Town," a collaborative effort between King and the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. [29] In December 1997, he performed in the Vatican's fifth annual Christmas concert and presented his trademark guitar "Lucille" to Pope John Paul II. [39] [40] In 1998, he appeared in The Blues Brothers 2000 , playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley. In 2000, he and Clapton teamed up again to record Riding With the King , which won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. [41]

Discussing where he took the Blues, from "dirt floor, smoke in the air" joints to grand concert halls, King said the Blues belonged everywhere beautiful music belonged. He successfully worked both sides of the commercial divide, with sophisticated recordings and "raw, raucous" live performance. [32]

2006–2014: Farewell tour and later activities

In 2006, King went on a "farewell" world tour, although he remained active afterward. [42] The tour was partly supported by Northern Irish guitarist, Gary Moore, with whom King had previously toured and recorded. It started in the United Kingdom, and continued with performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival and in Zürich at the Blues at Sunset. During his show in Montreux at the Stravinski Hall, he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Leela James, Andre Beeka, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke. [43]

King at Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, in May 2007 BBKing.jpg
King at Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, in May 2007

In June 2006, King was present at a memorial of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected. The same month, a groundbreaking was held for a new museum, dedicated to King, [44] in Indianola, Mississippi. [45] The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened on September 13, 2008. [46]

In late October 2006, King recorded a concert album and video entitled B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis. The video of the four-night production featured his regular B.B. King Blues Band and captured his show as he performed it nightly around the world. Released in 2008, they documented his first live performances in over a decade. [47]

In 2007, King played at Eric Clapton's second Crossroads Guitar Festival [48] and contributed the songs "Goin' Home", to Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (with Ivan Neville's DumpstaPhunk) [49] and "One Shoe Blues" to Sandra Boynton's children's album Blue Moo, accompanied by a pair of sock puppets in a music video for the song. [50]

In the summer of 2008, King played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, where he was given a key to the city. [51] Also in 2008, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. [52]

President Obama and King singing "Sweet Home Chicago" on February 21, 2012 Barack Obama singing in the East Room.jpg
President Obama and King singing "Sweet Home Chicago" on February 21, 2012

King performed at the Mawazine festival in Rabat, Morocco, on May 27, 2010. [53] In June 2010, King performed at the Crossroads Guitar Festival with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. [54] He also contributed to Cyndi Lauper's album Memphis Blues , which was released on June 22, 2010. [55]

In 2011, King played at the Glastonbury Music Festival, [56] and in the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he recorded a concert video. [57]

Rolling Stone ranked King at No. 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. [58]

On February 21, 2012, King was among the performers of "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues," during which President Barack Obama sang part of "Sweet Home Chicago". [59] King recorded for the debut album of rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T., who also hails from Mississippi. [60] On July 5, 2012, King performed a concert at the Byblos International Festival in Lebanon. [61]

On May 26, 2013, King appeared at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. [62]

On October 3, 2014, after completing his live performance at the House of Blues in Chicago, a doctor diagnosed King with dehydration and exhaustion, and the eight remaining shows of his ongoing tour had to be cancelled. King didn't schedule any additional shows for the remainder of the year. [63] [64]

When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille. [65]

Equipment

B.B. King used equipment characteristic of the different periods he played in. He played guitars made by various manufacturers early in his career. He played a Fender Esquire on most of his recordings with RPM Records. [66] However, he was best known for playing variants of the Gibson ES-355.

In the September edition 1995 of Vintage Guitar, early photos show him playing a Gibson ES-5 through a Fender tweed amp. In reference to the photo, B.B. King stated, "Yes; the old Fender amplifiers were the best that were ever made, in my opinion. They had a good sound and they were durable; guys would throw them in the truck and they’d hold up. They had tubes, and they’d get real hot, but they just had a sound that is hard to put into words. The Fender Twin was great, but I have an old Lab Series amp that isn’t being made anymore. I fell in love with it, because its sound is right between the old Fender amps that we used to have and the Fender Twin. It’s what I’m using tonight." [67]

He later moved on from the larger Gibson hollow bodied instruments which were prone to feedback when played a high volumes to various semi-hollow models beginning first with the ES-335 and then a deluxe version called the ES-355 which employed a stereo option [68] . In 1980, Gibson Guitar Corporation launched the B.B. King Lucille model, a ES-355 with stereo options, a varitone selector and fine tuners (neither of which were actually utilized by B.B.) and, at King's direct request, no f-holes to further reduce feedback. In 2005, Gibson made a special run of 80 Gibson Lucilles, referred to as the "80th Birthday Lucille", the first prototype of which was given as a birthday gift to King, and which he used thereafter. [69]

King used a Lab Series L5 2×12" combo amplifier and had been using this amplifier for a long time. It was made by Norlin Industries for Gibson in the 1970s and 1980s. Other popular L5 users are Allan Holdsworth and Ty Tabor of King's X. The L5 has an onboard compressor, parametric equalization, and four inputs. King also used a Fender Twin Reverb. [70]

He used his signature model strings "Gibson SEG-BBS B.B. King Signature Electric Guitar Strings" with gauges: 10–13–17p–32w–45w–54w and D'Andrea 351 MD SHL CX (medium 0.71mm, tortoise shell, celluloid) picks. [70]

B.B. King's Blues Club

Sign outside B.B. King's Blues Club on Beale Street, Memphis BBKINGSignBealeStreet.JPG
Sign outside B.B. King's Blues Club on Beale Street, Memphis

In 1991, Beale Street developer John Elkington recruited B.B. King to Memphis to open the original B.B. King's Blues Club, and in 1994, a second club was launched at Universal Citywalk in Los Angeles. A third club in New York City's Times Square opened in June 2000 but closed on April 29, 2018. Management is currently in the process of finding a new location in New York City. [71] Two more clubs opened, at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in January 2002, [72] and in Nashville in 2003. [73] Another club opened in Orlando in 2007. [74] A club in West Palm Beach opened in the fall of 2009 [75] and an additional one, based in the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas, opened in the winter of 2009. [76]

Television and other appearances

King made guest appearances in numerous popular television shows, including The Cosby Show , The Young and the Restless , General Hospital , [77] The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air , Sesame Street , [78] Married... with Children , Sanford and Son , and Touched by an Angel .

In 2000, the children's show, Between The Lions , featured a singing character named "B.B. the King of Beasts", modeled on the real King. [79]

B.B. King: The Life of Riley, a feature documentary about King narrated by Morgan Freeman and directed by Jon Brewer, was released on October 15, 2012. [80]

Commercials

King, who was diabetic, appeared in several television commercials for OneTouch Ultra, a blood glucose monitoring device, in the 2000s and early 2010s. [81] He appeared in 1995 in a McDonald's commercial with Australian guitarist Nathan Cavaleri, and then in a commercial for the Toyota Camry with his guitar Lucille. [82]

Personal life

King was married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, November 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. The failure of both marriages has been attributed to the heavy demands made by King's 250 performances a year. [10] [83] It is reported that he fathered 15 children with several different women. [10] [8] After his death, three more have come forward, claiming King as their father as well. [84] Though neither of his marriages produced children, and biographer Charles Sawyer wrote that doctors found his sperm count too low to conceive children, [85] King never disputed paternity of any of the 15 who claimed it, and by all accounts was generous in bankrolling college tuitions and establishing trust funds. [84] In May 2016, the 11 surviving children initiated legal proceedings against King's appointed trustee over his estimated $30 million to $40 million estate. Several of them also went public with the allegation that King's business manager, LaVerne Toney, and his personal assistant, Myron Johnson, had fatally poisoned him. Autopsy results showed no evidence of poisoning. A defamation suit filed by Johnson against the accusing family members (including his own sister, Karen Williams) is pending. Other children have filed lawsuits targeting King's music estate, which remains in dispute. [84]

King was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1990. [86] He lived with diabetes for over 20 years, and was a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease. [43] [87]

King was an FAA certified private pilot and learned to fly in 1963 at what was then Chicago Hammond Airport in Lansing, Illinois. [88] [89] He frequently flew to gigs but in 1995 his insurance company and manager asked him to fly only with another certified pilot. As a result, he stopped flying around the age of 70. [90]

King's favorite singer was Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography he spoke about how he was a "Sinatra nut" and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra's classic album In the Wee Small Hours . During the 1960s Sinatra had arranged for King to play at the main clubs in Las Vegas. He credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who were not given the chance to play in "white-dominated" venues. [91]

Philanthropy and notable campaigns

In September 1970, King recorded Live in Cook County Jail, during a time in which issues of race [92] and class in the prison system were prominent in politics. King also co-founded the Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Rehabilitation and Recreation, tying in his support for prisoners and interest in prison reform. [92] In addition to prison reform, King also wanted to utilize prison performances as a way to preserve music and songs in a similar way that Alan Lomax did. [93]

In 2002, King signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in underprivileged public schools throughout the United States. He sat on the organization's Honorary Board of Directors. [94]

In the 2000s to early 2010s, King [86] was also involved in a diabetes awareness campaign with American Idol contestant, Crystal Bowersox, with One Touch Ultra, starring in commercials promoting diabetes health management. [95] [96]

Death and funeral

The remaining eight shows of his 2014 tour were cancelled because of health problems caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes. [64] [97] [98] King died in his sleep on May 14, 2015, at the age of 89, [14] from vascular dementia caused by a series of small strokes as a consequence of his type 2 diabetes. [99] Two of his daughters alleged that King was deliberately poisoned by two associates trying to induce diabetic shock, [100] however an autopsy showed no evidence of poisoning. [97] [101]

On May 27, 2015, King's body was flown to Memphis. A funeral procession went down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing "When the Saints Go Marching In." Thousands lined the streets to pay their last respects. His body was then driven down Route 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. [102] He was laid in repose at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, in Indianola, for people to view his open casket. [103] [104] The funeral took place at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola, on May 30. [105] [106] [107] He was buried at the B.B. King Museum. [104]

Discography

Studio albums

Accolades

Awards and nominations

Years reflect the year in which the Grammy was awarded, for music released in the previous year.

Grammy Awards
YearCategoryWorkResult
1971 Best Male R&B Vocal Performance "The Thrill Is Gone"Won
1981 Best R&B Instrumental Performance "When I'm Wrong"Nominated
1982 Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording "There Must Be a Better World Somewhere"Won
1983 Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals "Street Life"Nominated
1984 Best Traditional Blues Recording Blues 'n JazzWon
1986My Guitar Sings the BluesWon
1991 Live at San Quentin Won
1991 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals "Waiting on the Light to Change"Nominated
1992 Best Traditional Blues Album Live at the Apollo Won
1994 Blues Summit Won
1995 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals "Patches"Nominated
1997 Best Rock Instrumental Performance "SRV Shuffle"Won
1999 Best Contemporary Blues Album Deuces Wild Nominated
2000 Best Traditional Blues Album Blues on the Bayou Won
2001 Best Traditional Blues Album Riding with the King Won
2001 Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals "Is You or Is You Ain't (Baby)"Won
2003 Best Traditional Blues Album A Christmas Celebration of HopeWon
2003 Best Pop Instrumental Performance "Auld Lang Syne"Won
2005 Best Traditional R&B Performance "Sinner's Prayer" (with Ray Charles)Nominated
2006 Best Traditional Blues Album B. B. King & Friends: 80 Won
2009 Best Traditional Blues Album One Kind Favor Won

Other awards

YearAssociationCategoryWorkResult
1995 Country Music Association Album of the Year Rhythm, Country and Blues ("Patches" with George Jones)Nominated
2002 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or Special Sesame Street Nominated
B.B. King receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, December 2006 B.B. King Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg
B.B. King receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, December 2006

Other honors

Commemorative guitar pick honoring "B.B. King Day" in Portland, Maine BB King pick.jpg
Commemorative guitar pick honoring "B.B. King Day" in Portland, Maine

See also

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Electric blues refers to any type of blues music distinguished by the use of electric amplification for musical instruments. The guitar was the first instrument to be popularly amplified and used by early pioneers T-Bone Walker in the late 1930s and John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters in the 1940s. Their styles developed into West Coast blues, Detroit blues, and post-World War II Chicago blues, which differed from earlier, predominantly acoustic-style blues. By the early 1950s, Little Walter was a featured soloist on blues harmonica or blues harp using a small hand-held microphone fed into a guitar amplifier. Although it took a little longer, the electric bass guitar gradually replaced the stand-up bass by the early 1960s. Electric organs and especially keyboards later became widely used in electric blues.

Memphis Slim was an American blues pianist, singer, and composer. He led a series of bands that, reflecting the popular appeal of jump blues, included saxophones, bass, drums, and piano. A song he first cut in 1947, "Every Day I Have the Blues", has become a blues standard, recorded by many other artists. He made over 500 recordings.

Robert Lockwood Jr. American Delta blues guitarist

Robert Lockwood Jr. was an American Delta blues guitarist, who recorded for Chess Records and other Chicago labels in the 1950s and 1960s. He was the only guitarist to have learned to play directly from Robert Johnson. Lockwood is known for his longtime collaboration with Sonny Boy Williamson II and for his work in the mid-1950s with Little Walter.

Johnny Winter American blues guitarist, singer, and record producer

John Dawson Winter III, known as Johnny Winter, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Best known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. After his time with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Buddy Guy American blues guitarist and singer

George "Buddy" Guy is an American blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of Chicago blues and has influenced eminent guitarists including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck and John Mayer. In the 1960s, Guy played with Muddy Waters as a house guitarist at Chess Records and began a musical partnership with the harmonica player Junior Wells.

Freddie King African-American blues guitarist and singer

Freddie King was an American blues guitarist and singer. He has been described as one of the "Three Kings" of electric blues guitar, along with Albert King and B.B. King. He was an influential guitarist with hits for Federal Records in the early 1960s. His soulful and powerful voice and distinctive guitar style inspired countless musicians, particularly guitarists. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

Derek Trucks American guitarist, bandleader and songwriter

Derek Trucks is an American guitarist, songwriter, and founder of the Grammy Award-winningThe Derek Trucks Band. He became an official member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1999. In 2010 he formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band with his wife, blues singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi. His musical style encompasses several genres and he has twice appeared on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He is the nephew of Butch Trucks, drummer for the Allman Brothers.

Doyle Bramhall II American rock guitarist, songwriter and producer

Doyle Bramhall II is an American musician, producer, guitarist, and songwriter known for his work with Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, and many others. He is the son of the songwriter and drummer Doyle Bramhall.

Hubert Sumlin American Chicago blues and electric blues guitarist and singer

Hubert Charles Sumlin was a Chicago blues guitarist and singer, best known for his "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions" as a member of Howlin' Wolf's band. He was ranked number 43 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Cross Road Blues single by Robert Johnson

"Cross Road Blues" is a blues song written and recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. Johnson performed it as a solo piece with his vocal and acoustic slide guitar in the Delta blues-style. The song has become part of the Robert Johnson mythology as referring to the place where he supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents, although the lyrics do not contain any specific references.

<i>Riding with the King</i> (B.B. King and Eric Clapton album) album

Riding with the King is a blues album by Eric Clapton and B.B. King that was released in 2000. It was their first collaborative album and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The album reached number one on Billboard's Top Blues Albums and was certified 2× Multi-Platinum in the United States. Riding with the King was also released on a DVD-Audio in higher resolution and with a 5.1 surround sound mix in 2000.

Lucille (guitar) name given to B.B. Kings guitars

Lucille is the name B.B. King gave to his guitars. They were usually black Gibson guitars similar to the ES-345-355.

Hide Away 1961 single by Freddie King, covered by Eric Clapton with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

"Hide Away" or "Hideaway" is a blues guitar instrumental that has become "a standard for countless blues and rock musicians performing today". First recorded in 1960 by Freddie King, the song became an R&B and pop chart hit. Since then, it has been interpreted and recorded by numerous blues and other musicians and has been recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Worried Life Blues

"Worried Life Blues" is a blues standard and one of the most recorded blues songs of all time. Originally recorded by Big Maceo Merriweather in 1941, "Worried Life Blues" was an early blues hit and Maceo's most recognized song. An earlier song inspired it and several artists have had record chart successes with their interpretations of the song.

B.B. King Museum

The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center is a Delta blues museum with the mission to "empower, unite and heal through music, art and education and share with the world the rich cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta." The museum, named for blues legend, B.B. King, is located in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, in the United States.

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