B.B. King passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday at his home in Las Vegas. The legendary blues singer’s health was declining and he was eighty-nine years old. According to a news report shared by Fox News today, B.B. King had been in home hospice care due to dehydration and also suffered from diabetes.
Before B.B. King became famous as a blues singer, songwriter and guitarist he picked cotton as a teenager on farms in Mississippi and was paid very little for working hard. He was raised by his grandmother when his parents separated working as a sharecropper. It was five long years before he was reunited with his father and during that time his mother had passed away.
B.B. King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925. His schooling was cut short when he dropped out in the tenth grade, but he self-taught himself and broke through all barriers and became a legendary musician despite any obstacles put in his path. He joined the Army during World War Two. He got his first start in radio as part of a gospel quartet in Mississippi. He later became a disc jockey in Tennessee which enabled him to study blues and jazz artists and was given the chance to play live a few minutes each day as the “Beale Street Blues Boy”, then was changed to “Blues Boy King” and eventually changed his name to B.B. King.
His career spanned almost seventy years and is noted for his signature song, “The Thrill is Gone”. There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do with his guitar that didn’t speak out and touch everyone who ever heard him play. His first rhythm and blues hit was “Three O’Clock Blues” which was recorded in 1951. During the course of his career, he was honored with fifteen Grammy wins, thirty Grammy nominations, was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
During his entire life he wanted to maintain tradition in what he did and the songs and music that he sang played and created. Some of the greatest hits he is known for were, “My Lucille”, “Sweet Little Angel”, “Rock Me Baby” and “Rock Me Baby”.
B.B. King is survived by eleven of his fifteen biological and adopted children. Rest in peace – the music world, family, friends and fans are saddened by your passing, but will remember your music, words and messages for many generations and years to come.