Birth Name: Riley B. King
Date of Birth: September 16, 1925
Birth Place: Berclair, Mississippi, U.S
Death: May 14, 2015 (aged 89), Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, musician, record producer
Instruments: Vocals, Guitar
Riley B. King, mostly famous as BB King, was born on September 16, 1925, and was raised in Berclair, Mississippi, U.S. He was basically famous for his singing, writing and playing guitar. He was a famous American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Frank Sinatra was his favorite singer.
He was the son of sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King. Later on the separation of his parents, he was brought up by his maternal grandma. At that time he was only 4 years old child. He sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. When he was only 12, he got his first guitar for 15 dollars. He desired to become a radio musician after hearing a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues in 1941. He was married twice. His first wife was Martha Lee Denton (1946 to 1952) and his second one was Sue Carol Hall (1958 to 1966). It is a saying that he was the father of 15 children with several different women and he had 50 grandchildren.
In 1943, King left Kilmichael and joined with St. John’s Quartet of Inverness, Mississippi and began to perform at area churches.
He began to develop an audience by performing on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM in West Memphis.Later, he engaged in a ten-minute as a singer and disc jockey on the Memphis radio station WDIA and got the nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy”. Afterwards that, he became recognized as “Blues Boy,” shortly BB.
King began recording song sin 1949. He became involved with RPM Records. But, his first recordings were for a company out of Nashville called Bullet which was a Bullet Record Transcription Company.
King created his own band. The name of the band was “The B.B. King Review”. The leader of the group was Millard Lee. The team members were- Millard Lee on piano, George Coleman on tenor sax, Floyd Newman in baritone saxophone, Kenneth Sands and Calvin Owens were in the trumpet, Lawrence Burdin in alto saxophone, George Joyner on bass and Ted Curry and Earl Forest in drums. Their composer was named as Onzie Horne, who was a trained musician. They basically performed in major theaters in urban centers. They made their tours in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and St. Louis.
In the winter of 1949, BB King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. During the time, two men began to fight, an accident occurred and two men died. BB King learned the following day that they had been contending over a woman named Lucille. Later on that, King called his first beloved guitar Lucille, It’s well known as “Gibson Lucille”
In the 1950s, B.B. King became one of the most significant names in R&B music. He achieved an impressive list of hits like-
- You Know I Love You
- Sweet Little Angel
- Please Love Me
- Woke Up This Morning
- When My Heart Beats like a Hammer
- Bad Luck
- On My Word of Honor
- Please Accept My Love
- Every Day I Have the Blues
- Whole Lotta Love
- Sneakin’ Around
- Ten Long Years etc.
It’s a thing of wondrous that King and his band performed 342 one-night stands, in 1956.
Subsequently the outstanding accomplishment of making noise in his weekly earnings started from around 85 dollars to 2,500 dollars. He began to appear in the major venues in large urban centers. Among them there were the Howard Theater in Washington and the Apollo in New York.
In 1956, he became a record-breaking person and made the year memorable. He had to deal with 342 concerts and three recording sessions throughout the year. In the same year, he launched his own record label called “Blues Boys Kingdom” with a headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis.
In 1962, he signed to ABC-Paramount Records. In November 1964, BB King recorded the album named “Live at the Regal”. Later in 1970, he won the Grammy Award for the song “The Thrill Is Gone”. He achieved the number 183 position in 500 Greatest Songs of All Time of the magazine “Rolling Stone”. In 2004 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize.
In 2006, King went on a farewell world tour with support by the Northern Irish guitarist Gary Moore. In the month of June in the same year, he was present at a commemoration of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi. A groundbreaking was also held for a new museum which was dedicated to the BB King that was opened on September 13, 2008.
In late October 2006, King made a concert album. In 2011, he played at the Glastonbury Music Festival and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. After that a memorable day came on February 21, 2012. King was one of the performers of “In Performance at the White House ceremony in which the president of USA, Barack Obama sang a portion of “Sweet Home Chicago”.
He donated more than 20,000 records including 7000 rare blues 78s to Mississippi University’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Another melancholic information about the King is, his 10,000th show came on April 17, 2006. He was performing at his namesake nightclub in New York. He performed despite having buried his son, who died of cancer, the day before.
The last segment of King’s life was really sorrowful. He was suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. He was hospitalized twice in May, 2015. He died on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89. His body was flown to Memphis and thousands of lines generated to show him last respect. King’s funeral was declared at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola, Mississippi and his body was buried at the museum.