Thursday, May 14, after a long battle with Diabetes, legendary BLUES Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Entrepreneur/Philanthropist B. B. KING passed away at his home in LAS VEAGS, NV, at the age of 89.
B. B. KING was born RILEY B. KING to sharecropper parents, Mrs. and Mrs. ALBERT and NORA KING, on the BERCLAIR COTTON PLANTATION near the town of ITTA BENA, MS; but, considered nearby INDIANOLA, MS, to be his home.
VARIETY report President BARACK OBAMA said:
“The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues.”From the late ’40s to the late ’60s, King developed his style before exclusively black audiences on the Southern “chitlin circuit” and initially won stardom with a series of authoritative R&B hits backed by brawny big bands on the Modern and ABC labels.
He lifted blues guitar playing to a new level of virtuosity on those recordings. Masterfully synthesizing divergent streams of blues and jazz on his instrument — the Gibson ES-355 he lovingly dubbed “Lucille” — he fused the approaches of such sophisticated precursors as Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Lonnie Johnson and T-Bone Walker into a fluid, hotwired attack all his own.
His forceful yet elegant single-string picking and roaring, emotion-packed singing won him devotees like the white blues-rock guitarists Michael Bloomfield, Steve Miller and Eric Clapton, who helped introduce him to a youthful new audience in the late ’60s. By the end of the decade, he had released a top-20 pop hit, “The Thrill Is Gone,” and was on the way to becoming an icon whose renown transcended his art’s humble origins in the Deep South.
Like many bluesmen, he got his start singing gospel, but as a teen he was drawn to the accomplished Lonnie Johnson, among the most fluent of pre-war blues guitarists. He also became more deeply involved in the music through his cousin Bukka White, an ex-convict and brilliant blues singer who had recorded for Victor and Vocalion.
He stepped into the rock spotlight in 1967 after pleas from acolytes Bloomfield and Miller led San Francisco promoter Bill Graham to book him on a bill at his Fillmore ballroom with Miller’s popular band and another top Bay Area attraction, Moby Grape. He followed up that wildly received date with more shows in the rock halls of the era, and he also became a regular in Las Vegas’ lucrative showrooms. By 1969, he was opening the Rolling Stones’ arena gigs.
The ’70s were fertile for King, as he reached the charts with several popular and imaginatively produced albums that found favor with both his new and old fans: “Indianola Mississippi Seeds” (No. 26, 1970), a pairing with Leon Russell; “Live at Cook County Jail” (No. 25, 1971), cut at the Chicago penal institution; the obligatory British all-star session “B.B. King in London” (No. 57, 1971); and collaborations with R&B/blues peer Bobby “Blue” Bland and jazz trio the Crusaders.
King’s career cooled off in the early ’80s, but he was acknowledged in 1987 with a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy and, in just its second year in existence, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1988, he extended his reach yet again with a guest shot in superstar Irish band U2’s doc “Rattle and Hum” and a show-stopping performance of “When Love Comes to Town” on its soundtrack album.
In 1991, King inaugurated a branded chain of blues clubs around the country with the opening of a venue on Memphis’ Beale Street. He was the marquee name on the all-star sessions “Blues Summit” (1993) and “Deuces Wild” (1997). (The similarly styled “80” followed in 2005).
At the turn of the millennium, at age 75, he enjoyed his commercial high-water mark with “Riding With the King,” a co-billed project with star pupil Eric Clapton. It peaked at No. 3 in 2000, sold more than 2 million copies and won an inevitable Grammy as best traditional blues album.
He received Sweden’s prestigious Polar Prize for music in 2004. An autumnal high-water mark came four years later: “One Kind Favor,” a reflective contemplation of the past and imminent mortality, produced by T Bone Burnett, featuring covers of such lifelong inspirations as T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson. It collected a valedictory Grammy for traditional blues album.
King, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, played concert dates in 90 countries and routinely continued to perform 100-150 shows a year until late in his career.
We offer PRAYERS, LOVE, BLESSINGS, And HUGS to ALL of the surviving family of B. B. KING.
HAPPY B. B. KING OLD SCHOOL FRIDAY!!!
PEACE, LOVE, And OLD SCHOOL FRIDAY BLESSINGS;