Musical icon B.B. King passed away on May 14, 2015.
R.I.P. B.B. King
In his honor, here are a few radio specials produced in celebration of B.B. King.
The first 2 are B.B. King venerations by yours truly:
Riley B. King, also known as B.B. King, was born on a plantation outside of Berclair, Mississippi on September 16, 1925. He got his first guitar at age 12—some say he bought it himself, though legend has it that it was given to him by slide-guitar master Bukka White, his mother’s first cousin. In ’46, King followed Bukka White to Memphis. He travelled some after that, ultimately landing in West Memphis, Arkansas where he developed an audience on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio show. It was actually in radio that Riley got the name B.B.—his DJ name, which stood for Blues Boy.
He cut his first records in 1949, and before long B.B. was one of the biggest names in R&B, as well as one of the busiest. In 1956, King performed 342 shows.
King won a Grammy in 1970 for his song the Thrill is Gone, which comes in at 183 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. His hometown of Indianola, Mississippi boasts an incredible museum dedicated to his life and place in Blues history—the B.B. King Museum. Despite embarking on a farewell tour in 2006, B.B. has toured ever since. Some estimate that he’s delivered over 15,000 performances in his 64 years in the business.
In addition to being possibly the greatest living blues guitarist, B.B. is an entrepreneur with eight nightclubs to his name, a licensed pilot, a spokesman for living with Type II diabetes, and a Frank Sinatra superfan.
B.B. King passed away on May 14, 2015 at his home in Las Vegas.