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Sunday, October 22 2017 @ 01:31 PM EDT

B.B. King - A Retrospective

SWFL Arts and Entertainment

It's been slightly less than a month since his passing and the world has certainly lost one of greatest guitarists to ever play the Blues. With more than 15 Grammy awards to his credit and a string of accolades that is nothing short of amazing, B.B. King has long been considered one of the Top 100 Guitarists in the world. Because his music and personality touched so many persons, B.B. King will be remembered for many things! While guitar and blues aficionados will certainly remember many of his hits, most of the world will always recall his hit; "The Thrill is Gone". Grammy Hall of Fame Awards are only given to recordings that are at least 25 years old and considered to have 'qualitative or historical significance'. 'The Thrill is Gone' received that honorable designation in 1998.  

 


In September of 1925 in the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi, Riley B. King came into the world. He was the son of sharecroppers. He would later claim the nearby town of Indianola, Mississippi as his real home. From the age of four, he sang in a gospel choir. At the age of 12 he bought a guitar for $15.00. He claimed it was his first and he taught himself to play. After learning to play and first hearing a radio show by the name of 'King Biscuit Time', he became a follower of 'Mississippi Delta' blues. He aspired to become a radio musician and in 1948 got his chance to perform on a radio program of Sonny Boy Williamson at KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas. That appearance led to others and eventually to some regular and recurrent gigs at local clubs.

 

**Initially he worked at WDIA radio as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", which was later shortened to "Blues Boy" and finally to B.B. It was at WDIA that he first met T-Bone Burnett, who introduced him to his ultimate love, the electric guitar! B.B. King began recording for the Los Angeles-based RPM label in 1949. Many of his earliest original recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, the man later responsible for the formation of Sun Records. During the 1950's, B.B. King established himself as a prominent Rhythm and Blues musician. His first certified number #1 hit on Billboard's 'Rhythm and Blues' Chart, "3 O'Clock Blues" got the ball rolling for B.B. King. 

 

Throughout his career, he would become one the most recognized names in Blues music as well as one of the most prolific, award-winning recording artists the world over. From his start on ABC-Paramount Records to later working for MCA and finally having records on Geffen, B.B. King has become one of the worlds most respected musicians. Throughout the 60's, BB King traveled the south performing more than 300 shows on what was known as the 'Chitlin Circuit'. Because issues of racial segregation were rampant in the deep south, BB King felt the sting.
 

I have put up with more humiliation than I care to remember..

 

is how he recalls those earliest days. Fortunately, due to the British Invasion and those bands strong blues influence, respect for blues music grew and it wasn't long before BB King was touring the entire country playing sold out shows. As BB King's notoriety and fame continued to grow, so, too, did his recognition and accolades! So many persons have had the pleasure to have seen him perform live because of his amazing amount of touring throughout his career. He continued to tour into his 80's and it's estimated that he played more than 15,000 live gigs in his career!

With a string of hits that are almost standards and nearly 100 albums to his credit, the music, following and legacy of B.B. King is sure to continue growing!


** Sources: BB King - Wikipedia -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.B._King

                   Obituary: BB King - BBC.com - http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-15575668

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