“THE KING OF THE BLUES”
His music inspired many generations and the sound of his guitar will be marked in the path of history.
“BB, anyone could play a thousand notes and never say what you said in one.” – Lenny Kravitz
“RIP BB King, one of the best blues guitarists of all time, maybe the best.” – Bryan Adams
He was born on September 16, 1925 on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Indianola, Mississippi, United States.
Son of Albert and Nora Ella King Lee Pully. His first musical experience came to him at age 12 when he joined a gospel vocal group and the preacher taught him his first chords with a guitar. At 14 he bought his first guitar for $15 and began singing gospel in groups or by himself.
He was drafted into the Army during World War II, but was discharged due to driving a tractor, an essential occupation during the war. In 1946, after breaking a tractor and fear the angry reaction of his boss, he moved to Memphis with a guitar and two dollars and a half in his pocket. There he is welcomed by his cousin Bukka White, who will definitely introduce him into the blues world. In the late forties and early fifties he developed a unique style blending the rural sound of the electric guitar and the field with the vitality of the city.
He met Sonny Boy Williamson II, who gave him a place as a DJ in his radio program. It was there that they began to call him ‘Blues Boy’, he ended up shortening the name to BB.
Since 1950 he began to make recordings and in 1965 released Live at the Regal, his first blues album that got put on the charts of pop music. After signing a contract with the Bihari brothers, he moved to California, where he organized several bands entering the horn section that would shape the “riffs” and using saxophones for blues. In 1953 he moved to Houston, where he played with the band of Bill Harvey until he began to lead it for health reasons thereof. That was when he began his series of endless tours throughout the country: 300 performances a year each lasted for four or five hours.
His popularity extends to teens in the city and among his fans was a young Elvis Presley that often sneaked out of his home at night to see him play. In 1955 he is already a national figure and acts throughout the country. Some of his most outstanding works are: Confessin ‘the Blues (1966), Indianola Mississippi Seeds (1970) -using as musicians Joe Walsh, Leon Russell and Carole King- and Six Silver Strings (1985).
Their virtue with guitar earned him the nickname of ‘king of the blues’ and the popularity of ‘one of the three kings of the blues guitar’ with Albert King and Freddie King. He received several Grammypor ‘The Thrill is Gone’ Awards (1970) and the LPs There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (1981), My Guitar Sings the Blues (1986), Live at San Quentin (1990), Live at the Apollo (1991 ) and Blues Summit (1992). In 1987 he was awarded the Grammy Award for his dedication to music and entered the Hall of Fame Rock and Roll.
B.B. King died in his sleep at 9:40 pm local time on Thursday May 14, 2015, in Las Vegas, USA, at the age of 89 years. He spent 20 years fighting type II diabetes. Despite his health problems, he remained active giving few hundred concerts a year until October 2014, when he felt ill during a performance. He would never act again.