B.B. King: Blues Royalty

Written by on April 7, 2015

B.B. King

B.B. King: The King of the Blues

A singer and guitarist born into a sharecropping family on September 16, 1925, in Itta Bena, Mississippi, Riley B. King… the famous guitar slinger known as B.B. King, became one of the best-known blues performers and a primary model for rock guitarists in the music industry.  All of this was happily followed after his service in the U.S. Army. When BB was young he played on street corners for dimes and would sometimes play in as many as four towns a night. In 1947 he hitchhiked to Memphis, Tennessee to continue his music career. He stayed with his cousin Bukka White, one of them most celebrated blues performers of his time, and she helped him find his way in the city’s music circle. Soon he was known as “the Beale Street Blues Boy.”

B.B. King made his first recording in 1949, and the very next year began a 12-year-long association with Kent/RPM/Modern, which he then recorded a string of rhythm and blues hits. His first national hit was “Three O’clock Blues,” which reached No.1 on the R&B charts. He toured the night club circuit and averaged more than 300 shows annually for over 30 years, and has released over 50 albums. His style of music earned him the title “King of the Blues.” His famous guitar was named “Lucille” after two guys fighting over a girl named Lucille knocked over a barrel lit with kerosene in the middle of the dance floor at a dance twist he was attending. The place caught fire, but that didn’t stop him from running back inside after he realized he had forgotten to grab his beloved guitar.

In 1962, King signed with ABC records, which released Live at the Regal, a benchmark blues concert album. In 1969, he released his biggest hit single, “The Thrill is Gone.” The first bluesman to tour the Soviet Union in 1979, by this time he had also become the first bluesman to enter the pop mainstream, making regular appearances in Las Vegas, Nevada and on network television. In 1987, BB was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He played more than 250 concerts per year and well into his 70’s. In his 80’s the number of tour dates were of course limited in number; being his health has been deteriorating over the past few years. Even with old age B.B. King will forever be one of the greatest, most influential blues guitar stylists, composers, and singers of the 20th century. If you want to hear BB King, Albert King or Freddy King, Blues tunes, then make sure you tune into Deep Jams Radio. Hear all the “King Family Tunes “as well as many other blues, jam bands, and other terrific musicians.

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