Tag Archives: B.B. King

King of the Blues Dies

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A giant in the blues world, B.B. King has died in his Las Vegas home. After collapsing during a concert in Chicago last October, the 89-year-old was hospitalized for dehydration and exhaustion. Since then he has suffered ill health with a diabetes-related illness. B.B. King had been in hospice care in his home where he passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, May 14.

The son of a sharecropper, Riley B. King was born September 16, 1925, on a plantation near Itta Bena, MS. He left school after grade 10 to make a living driving a tractor and picking cotton for 75 cents a day. His preacher uncle taught him to play guitar but it wasn’t until basic training in the Army in World War II when he began playing and singing the blues.

photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos

Riley sang gospel songs on a Memphis street corner until he got a job at 23 at radio station WDIA as a disc jockey nicknamed “Beale Street Blues Boy.” In addition to a steady gig, it gave him access to a wide range of records in the station’s library. King studied the music of guitar greats like Robert Johnson, Django Reinhardt, and T-Bone Walker.

While playing local clubs at night, he first recorded four sides at Bullet Records in 1949 and his 1951 record Three O’Clock Blues became a top seller. His heartfelt vocals and wailing guitar would be the centerpiece of a string of hits including My Lucille, Sweet Little Angel, How Blue Can You Get, The Thrill is Gone, and many more.

From 1950 to 1970, B.B. King was always on the road and never home. He travelled an average 300 days a year and spent the rest of his time in the recording studio. (In recent years, he reduced his days on the road to 100.) Over several decades in the music business, he won 15 Grammys and sold more than 40 million records worldwide. King was inducted in both The Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

B.B. King’s gritty voice and scorching guitar licks on his Gibson ES-355 named Lucille influenced a generation of blues and rock guitarists like Otis Rush, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Cray, John Mayall, and Mike Bloomfield. His friend and record-mate Eric Clapton posted this moving tribute:

Always a gentleman onstage and off, this is B.B. King’s lively guest appearance on Sesame Street:

B.B. King: The Life of Riley

If you want to know more about King’s life, watch “B.B. King: The Life of Riley,” a feature documentary about this legendary blues musician. Directed by Jon Brewer and narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film takes us from Riley’s humble beginnings overcoming poverty and racism to become an international star. Brewer spent two years wading through 250 hours of archive footage and interviews to assemble a complete portrait of the man. (Warts and all.)

Even though its theatrical run is finished, you can download “B.B. King: The Life of Riley” from iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/b.b.-king-life-of-riley/id912903759

You can also buy it on DVD at:

http://www.econgroupinc.net/bbking/b-b-king-life-of-riley-dvd-preorder.html

B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center

If you are heading south from Memphis along the Mississippi Blues Trail, the impressive B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS is a shrine for blues lovers. The museum not only profiles King’s life and career, but showcases many other blues artists from the Delta.

B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
400 Second Street, Indianola, MS 38751
http://www.bbkingmuseum.org/

Every year for the past 40 years, Mr. King returned to Indianola to perform for his hometown. This year’s annual B.B. King Homecoming Festival will be held in his honor at the museum grounds on Sunday, May 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm.

B.B. King Homecoming Festival
http://www.bbkingmuseum.org/bb-king-homecoming-festival

B.B. King opened his last album singing, “I’m not going anytime soon, but when the day comes, don’t forget me.”

There’s little chance of that.  May his music last forever.

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Background and Resources

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Memphis Travel
http://www.memphistravel.com/

Memphis Travel – Mobile Apps
http://www.memphistravel.com/interactive-map#mobileapp

Memphis Magazine
http://www.memphismagazine.com/

ILoveMemphis Blog
http://ilovememphisblog.com/

Memphis History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis,_TN

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National Civil Rights Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Civil_Rights_Museum

Unpublished MLK Assassination Photos
http://life.time.com/history/mlk-assassination-photos-from-memphis-tennessee-april-4-1968/#1

Graceland
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graceland

Memphis Trolley
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MATA_Trolley

Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Railroad_%26_Trolley_Museum

Memphis Central Station
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Station_(Memphis)

Gibson Guitars
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson_Guitars

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burkle_Estate#Slave_Haven_Underground_Railroad_Museum

The Cotton Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_museum

Steamboats of the Mississippi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboats_of_the_Mississippi

Ernest C. Withers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Withers

Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Rock_N%27_Soul_Museum

The Orpheum Theatre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orpheum_Theatre_(Memphis)

Center for Southern Folklore
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Southern_Folklore

Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission
http://www.memphismusic.org/Programs.aspx

Little Kids Rock
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Kids_Rock

photo by micro43, Flickr
photo by micro43, Flickr

All-Music Guide – Blues
http://www.allmusic.com/genre/blues-ma0000002467

Memphis Blues
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_blues

The Blues Foundation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_Foundation

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Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues
http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Guitar-Memphis-Minnies-Blues/dp/0872866211/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402586730&sr=1-1&keywords=Memphis+Minnie

B.B. King
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bb-king-mn0000059156/biography

Al Green
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/al-green-mn0000607448/biography

Elvis51Elvis Presley
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/elvis-presley-mn0000180228/biography

Sun Studio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Studio

Levitt Shell (Overton Park Shell)
http://scottymoore.net/overton.html

Rocket 88
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_88

WDIA Radio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WDIA

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Wheelin’ on Beale: How WDIA-Memphis Became the Nation’s First All-Black Radio Station and Created the Sound that Changed America
http://www.amazon.com/Wheelin-Beale-Wdia

The Stax Museum
photo by Kim, Flickr

Stax Records
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stax_Records

Stax Records (Concord Music Group)
http://www2.concordmusicgroup.com/labels/Stax/

Stax at 50: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
http://www.allmusic.com/album/stax-50-a-50th-anniversary-celebration-mw0000452604

Wattstax
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wattstax

photo by AOK Library and Gallery, UMBC
photo by AOK Library and Gallery, UMBC

Otis Redding
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/otis-redding-mn0000414251/biography

Booker T. & the M.G.’s
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/booker-t-the-mgs-mn0000772733/biography

Staple Singers
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-staple-singers-mn0000577235/biography

Sam & Dave
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/sam-dave-mn0000282709/biography

Isaac Hayes
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/isaac-hayes-mn0000101946/biography

John Németh
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/john-n%C3%A9meth-mn0000484219/biography

The Bo-Keys
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bo-Keys

photo by sarah james, Flickr
photo by sarah james, Flickr

Hi Records (Official)
http://www.hirecords.com/

Hi Records
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi_Records

Hi Times: The Hi Records R & B Years
http://www.allmusic.com/album/hi-times-the-hi-records-r-b-years-box-mw0000125619

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Big Star
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/big-star-mn0000051992/biography

Ardent Studios
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardent_Studios

A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man
http://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Destruction

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FedEx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FedEx_Express

Changing How the World Does Business: FedEx’s Incredible Journey to Success – The Inside Story
http://www.amazon.com/Changing-How-World-Does-Business

FedEx Delivers: How the World’s Leading Shipping Company Keeps Innovating and Outperforming the Competition
http://www.amazon.com/FedEx-Delivers-Innovating-Outperforming-Competition

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photo by Jack Delano, Wikimedia Commons

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brotherhood_of_Sleeping_Car_Porters

Jim Crow Stories: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_org_brother.html

Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggles
http://www.paulwagnerfilms.com/miles-of-smiles-trailer/

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photo by Joseph, Flickr

Amtrak
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak

National Train Day
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Train_Day

Content Creation for Train Simulator 2014
http://www.engine-driver.com/article/show/3465/interview-content-creation-for-train-simulator-part-1

Chuggington
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuggington

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Mississippi Blues Trail
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Blues_Trail

Delta Blues Museum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Blues_Museum

Ground Zero Club
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_Zero_(blues_club)

photo by Amy and Turgay, Flickr
photo by Amy and Turgay, Flickr