R.I.P. B.B. King | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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R.I.P. B.B. King

Blues Legend Dead at 89

May 15, 2015 B.B. King Bookmark and Share

Last night, B.B. King, largely regarded one of the greatest guitarists of all time and an icon of the blues genre, died in sleep in Las Vegas, according to The New York Times. He was 89.

Born Riley B. King in Mississippi, King taught himself how to play guitar growing up on a plantation farm. After serving in World War II, King returned home and became a disc jockey in Memphis, earning himself the name the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” which was eventually shortened to B.B. Playing his own music on the side, King cut his first record, “Three O’Clock Blues,” in 1951, which reached No. 1 on the rhythm-and-blues charts and stayed there for 15 weeks.

A true touring artist, King was constantly on the road, playing 200 to 300 shows a year for the rest of his life. Embraced by fans of rock and roll in the ‘60s and ‘70s, cited as an influence by the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, King released his biggest hit in 1969 with “The Thrill Is Gone.” While never achieving the same commercial popularity, King continued to be an influential crossover fixture in music.

By the end of his life King had won over a dozen Grammys (among them a lifetime achievement award), been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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