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b.b. king

B.B. King

b. Riley B. King, 16th September 1925, Itta Bena, Mississippi, U.S.A.

d. 14th May 2015, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

B.B. King was a Blues guitarist, who, by many respected artists and institutions, is seen as one of the most influential guitarists performing over the last century.

He was known, affectionately, as the ‘King Of the Blues’.

B.B. was, not only, a respected guitarist, he is also an accomplished songwriter and vocalist.

Born in Berclair, Mississippi, B.B. was influenced by the performers Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker.

B.B. King

with his first wife, martha king

B.B. is the son of Albert King and Nora Ella Farr, however, by 1930, his father had left the family.

His mother was to later remarried, leaving a young B.B. in the hands of his grandmother, Elnora Farr in Kilmichael, Mississippi.

As a child, B.B. sang in his local church in Kilmichael.

When he was 12 he bought his first guitar, and by 1943, B.B. had relocated to Inverness in the county to get a job as a tractor driver.

B.B. was later to perform in several local churches in Mississippi, relocating again in 1946 to Memphis.

He began performed on various radio stations, one of which was on KWEM in West Memphis.

B.B. King

B.B.’s reputation grew, with the guitarist performing at the station, along with the Sixteenth Avenue Grill, in West Memphis, and at WDIA in Memphis, where he was allocated a growing schedule of performance time.

B.B. King WDIA

At WDIA, B.B. became a deejay, becoming known as the Beale Street Blues Boy.

B.B. stood for ‘Blues Boy’, which became a name that stayed with the man.

At the end of the Second World War, B.B. signed to RPM Records, where he was produced by Sam Phillips (who later founded the Sun Records imprint).

B.B. KingB.B. King

'miss martha king' b/w 'when your baby packs up and goes' -1949 / 'mistreated woman' b/w 'b.b. boogie' - 1950

B.B. had previously recorded for the Bullet Records imprint, releasing ‘Miss Martha King’ in 1949, a song named after his first wife.

B.B. King

He then put together his own band called the B.B. King Review.

The group comprised of Calvin Owens, Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano), George Joyner (bass), Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums).

The B.B. King Review toured the States, performing in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and St. Louis.

During late 1949, the group played in Arkansas, in a cold hall, which was heated by kerosene barrels.

A dispute between two audience members led to one barrel becoming upturned, setting the place on fire.

B.B. had left his guitar in the hall, and went to retrieve it, discovering the fight started between two men who were arguing over a woman called Lucille.

B.B. King

He named his guitar after the woman, in order to remind himself that a guitar was replaceable, whilst he was not.

B.B.’s band went on to tour the ‘Chitlin’ Circuit’ (performance venues throughout the eastern, southern, and upper mid-west areas of the United States), performing nearly 340 gigs during 1956.

He went on to form his own imprint, namely, the Blues Boys Kingdom, which was based in Memphis.

B.B. King

circa 1952

B.B. became hugely successful in the Fifties releasing several songs which had become hits at a later stage. These included ‘3 O'Clock Blues’, ‘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’.

In 1962, B.B. signed to the ABC-Paramount Records imprint (ABC was later taken over by MCA Records).

In 1964, B.B. recorded ‘Live at the Regal’ at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.


By 1970 he was awarded a Grammy Award for the song ‘The Thrill Is Gone’, which reached number 183 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

B.B. later toured in 1969 with The Rolling Stones' 1969 American Tour.

B.B. King

with mick jagger

He was was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

In 1988, B.B. collaborated with the band U2 on ‘When Love Comes To Town’, which featured on the group’s ‘Rattle and Hum’ album.

In 1998, he appeared in the movie ‘The Blues Brothers 2000’ along with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley.

In 2000, he collaborated again with the guitarist Eric Clapton recording ‘Riding With the King’.

In 2006, B.B. began a ‘Farewell Tour’ supported by the guitarist Gary Moore.

The tour set out in the UK, and continued at the Montreux Jazz Festival, then into Zurich at the Blues at Sunset.

His show included the likes of Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Lella James, Andre Beeka, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke.

The Farewell Tour ended in Luxembourg in 2006, folllowing on, later, during November and December, in Brazil.

Following the end of the tour, in Summer 2009, he began another European Tour with concerts in France, Germany, Belgium, Finland and Denmark.

In 2011, B.B. performed at the Glastonbury Music Festival, and in The Royal Albert Hall, London.

In early 2012, he was among the performers of ‘In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues’.

B.B. King

President Obama sang part of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ at the event.

In mid 2013, B.B. appeared at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

B.B. King

A television documentary, entitled ‘Life Of Riley’ was released in 2013.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

B.B. King passed away in Las Vegas in 2015.

Real Player

Studio Albums:

Singin' the Blues (Crown Records 1956)

The Blues (Crown Records 1958)

B. B. King Wails (Crown Records 1959)

Sings Spirituals (Crown Records 1959)

The Great B. B. King (Crown Records 1960)

King of the Blues (Crown Records 1960)

My Kind of Blues (Crown Records 1961)

Blues for Me (Crown Records 1961)

Blues in My Heart (Crown Records 1962)

Easy Listening Blues (Crown Records 1962)

B. B. King (Crown Records 1963)

Mr. Blues (Crown Records 1963)

Confessin' the Blues (ABC Records 1966)

Blues on Top of Blues (ABC Records 1968)

Lucille (Bluesway Records 1968)

Live & Well (Bluesway Records 1969)

Completely Well (Bluesway Records 1969)

Indianola Mississippi Seeds (ABC Records 1970)

B. B. King in London (ABC Records 1971)

L.A. Midnight (ABC Records 1972)

Guess Who (ABC Records 1972)

To Know You Is to Love You (ABC Records 1973)

Friends (Probe Records 1974)

King Size (ABC Records 1977)

Midnight Believer (MCA Records 1978)

Take It Home (MCA Records 1979)

There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (MCA Records 1981)

Love Me Tender (MCA Records 1982)

Blues 'N' Jazz (MCA Records 1983)

Six Silver Strings (MCA Records 1985)

King of the Blues (Ace Records 1989)

There is Always One More Time (MCA Records 1991)

Blues Summit (MCA Records 1993)

Lucille & Friends (MCA Records 1995)

Deuces Wild (MCA Records 1997)

Gold (MCA Records 1998)

Blues on the Bayou (MCA Records 1998)

Let the Good Times Roll (MCA Records 1999)

Riding with the King (Reprise Records 2000)

Makin' Love Is Good for You (MCA Records 2000)

A Christmas Celebration of Hope (MCA Records 2001)

Reflections (MCA Records 2003)

B. B. King & Friends: 80 (Geffen Records 2005)

One Kind Favor (Universal Records 2008)

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