B.B KING – King of the Blues
Riley B. King, better known by his stage as B.B. King, became a household name after returning from WWII. In Memphis, Tennessee, B.B. King, then known as “the Beale Street Blues Boy,” became a radio jockey and, in 1949, released his first album as a recording artist. He then recorded and toured for the following several decades, doing around 300 gigs annually. King, a world-renowned musician, collaborated with rock, pop, and country artists. In 2009, he took home his fifteenth Grammy. King passed away in 2015.
On September 16, 1925, in Itta Bena, Mississippi, King was born into a sharecropping family and would go on to become one of the most well-known blues artists, a key figure in the consolidation of blues genres, and a fundamental model for rock guitarists. After finishing his time in the military, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he became known as “the Beale Street Blues Boy” on the radio. Hence, where the initials “B.B.” were came from.
B.B. also spent quite a bit of time in Chicago as a major part of the early “Chicago Blues” scene like the great Muddy Waters.
King recorded for the first time in 1949. The following year began a 12-year association with Kent/RPM/Modern, during which he recorded a string of rhythm and blues hits such as “You Know I Love You,” “Woke Up This Morning,” and “Three O’Clock Blues,” the latter of which became his first national hit and a No. 1 on the R&B charts. In addition, for over 30 years, he performed at over 300 nightclubs yearly. He was known as the “King of the Blues” for dominating the blues genre.
King named his prized instrument in the same year he made his debut recording. While in Twist, Arkansas, King went to a dance where a barrel of kerosene was ignited in the center of the floor. An altercation broke out, knocking over the barrel, which started a fire that quickly spread across the building. Even though King and the rest of the occupants of the building had already escaped, he rushed back inside to get his beloved guitar.
Thankfully, he could get out of the building with his guitar before it completely caved in. It was eventually revealed to King that Lucille, a female venue employee, was the cause of the fight. Once King realized his mistake, he renamed his guitar “Lucille” as a constant reminder.
Live at the Regal (1965), King’s landmark blues live CD, was released after he signed with ABC Records in 1962. With “The Thrill is Gone,” published in 1969, he had his greatest commercial success. In 1979, he made history as the first blues musician to visit the Soviet Union. He was also the first blues musician to break into the pop mainstream, with frequent performances in Las Vegas and on network television.
Throughout his career, King worked with various musicians, including Eric Clapton, Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison, and Bonnie Raitt, with whom he released many successful albums. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted King in 1987.
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Here is a little from B.B. King in his prime –
You can listen to B.B. King on Apple Music.