Legendary Blues Guitarist B.B. King dies at age 89

The King of Blues, B.B. King passed away yesterday in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.


Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 in Berclair, Mississippi. By the time he was fourteen years old, he was on his own living as a sharecropper. He would eventually serve in the Army and marry Martha Denton by the age of 22.

After moving to Memphis he became a blues disc jockey at radio station WDIA. It was there that he was called Beale Street Blues Boy, Blues Boy King and eventually B.B. King.

B.B. King had several hits starting in 1949. His first hit was Three O’Clock Blues which remained number one on the rhythm and blues chart for 15 weeks. He eventually had a succession of hits including Everyday I Have The Blues, Sweet Sixteen Part 1, Sweet Little Angel and How Blue Can You Get. His biggest hit was the 1970s hit The Thrill Is Gone in which he won his first Grammy Award. B.B. King would go on to win more than a dozen Grammy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. He was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. In 2005 the Mississippi state Legislature honored him with B.B. King Day.

B.B. King would spend most of his time on the road, traveling all over the world and would go on to influence many musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and many others.


When B.B. King wasn’t on the road you could find him making appearances on tv shows including The Cosby Show, Blossom and Sanford and Son.

One of the things B.B. King was most famous for was his most prized possession: his guitar Lucille. Read about the history of Lucille at RollingStone.com.

Lucille’s beginnings date to 1949, when King, then in his early 20s, was performing at a nightclub in Twist, Arkansas, in the dead of winter. To heat the cold room, King recalled in a video interview, “they would take something that looked like a big garbage pail, half fill it with kerosene, light that fuel [and] set it in the middle of the dance floor.” All well and good, but on this night, a fight broke out between two men, and the pail was knocked over. “It spilled on the floor, it looked like a river fire,” the guitarist said. “And everyone started to run for the front door, including B.B. King.”

The blueseman managed to make it to safety outside — only to realize he had left his guitar behind. He raced back inside to retrieve it even as the wooden building, he said, “started to fall in around me.” The next day, he learned that two men had died in the blaze and that the fight that had set off the tragic chain of events had been over a woman who worked at the club. Her name was Lucille.

B.B. King married twice and was the father of 15 children.

Rest in Peace to the King of the Blues. He’s not with us anymore but his music is here to stay and he will continue to influence many more musicians.  You can always check out his music at SiriusXM B. B. King’s Bluesville Channel 70.

You can read more about B.B. King at the following websites:

B.B. King.com: The Official Website

B.B. King, Defining Bluesman for Generations, Dies at 89

American Roots Music

The Legacy of Lucille

The Blues Has Lost Its King and America Has Lost a Legend

The B.B. King Museum

B.B. King, Blues Legend Dead at 89

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