B.B. King

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About B.B. King

Born in the Mississippi Delta, B.B. King learned about the blues from his great-grandmother, who had been enslaved. She told him, “Singing about your sadness unburdens your soul.” ∙ A local church leader taught him how to play his first chord progression on a Silvertone guitar that King dreamed of owning one day. ∙ King earned the nickname Beale Street Blues Boy—or B.B. for short—while working as a DJ and singer at Memphis radio station WDIA. ∙ His breakthrough single, 1951’s “Three O’Clock Blues,” sparked a string of classics, including “Everyday I Have the Blues,” “Sweet Little Angel,” and “You Know I Love You” (featuring Ike Turner on piano). ∙ A tireless performer, King played an incredible 342 shows in 1956 and continued to perform more than 200 concerts a year until he was in his seventies. ∙ He broadened his audience by playing rock clubs, supporting The Rolling Stones, and recording music with Big K.R.I.T., U2, Elton John, Ringo Starr, and Bonnie Raitt. ∙ Beginning with his classic “The Thrill Is Gone,” King won 15 Grammy Awards, including honors for his 2000 collaboration with Eric Clapton, Riding With the King, and his final studio release, One Kind Favor. ∙ King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Itta Bena, MS, United States
September 16, 1925

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