Los Angeles | B B King, the Blues legend who redefined an era with classics like ‘The Thrill Is Gone, Please Love Me, and My Lucille, has died at the age of 89. King died in his sleep at 9:40 PM on Thursday at his home in Las Vegas, AP reported quoting his attorney Brent Bryson.
Riley B King, better known to his fans around the globe as B B King, was born September 16, 1925, on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi. The musician was recently in hospital with a diabetes-related illness. His last tour in October last year was cancelled after he fell ill.
Considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, King had named his Gibson ES-355 guitar as Lucille. The multiple Grammy award-winner was inducted into both the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Celebrities took to Twitter to mourn the demise of the legend. Former Beatle Ringo Starr tweeted: God bless BB King, peace and love to his family. Will Young wrote: BB King- the most wonderful blues singer and guitarist. I suggest everyone gets one of his records to hear true soul and spirit.
Lenny Kravitz tweeted: BB, anyone could play a thousand notes and never say what you said in one. King started his musical journey by playing on the streets. He later travelled to Memphis, TN, to pursue his music career in 1947. Memphis became King’s home where he stayed with his cousin Bukka White, a blues performer in his own right.
White mentored King further in the music. His first big gig happened a year later when he performed on a radio programme that led to a spot on Memphis radio station WDIA. Known as ‘King’s Spot, the programme became so popular, it was expanded and became the ‘Sepia Swing Club.
King needed a catchy name and it became Blues Boy King and later B B King. A prolific performer, King began touring nationally after delivering a hit in Three O’Clock Blues. Known for his economy, King has jammed with many players from Eric Clapton and George Harrison to Jeff Beck and U2. In 1996, King released his autobiography Blues All Around Me, which he wrote with David Ritz for Avon Books.
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