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B.B. King

  • Birthplace: Itta Bena, Mississippi
  • Birthday: September 16
Date of passing: 
May 14, 2015

Obituary

Obituary: 

B.B. King was a prolific musician, singer and songwriter who helped popularize the electric blues genre over the course of a career that spanned more than sixty years. He was also widely acknowledged as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, was the winner of 15 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.Known as “The King of Blues," the tireless performer was still performing more than 200 shows per year well into his seventies.

Born Riley B. King in Itta Bena, Mississippi, King earned a living picking cotton and singing gospel songs on a local street corner. In 1948 he landed a gig on Sonny Boy Williamson's local radio show in Memphis. He met Louis Jordan and T-Bone Walker while in Memphis, where he heard electric guitar for the first time. He scored his first number-one hit in 1951 with "3 O'Clock Blues." Dozens more would follow, including 1954's "You Upset Me Baby" and 1960's "Sweet Sixteen."

King’s work was featured extensively in both film and television, including the movies Thelma & Louise, The Fugitive, Mrs. Doubtfire, Heat and The Rainmaker. For television, his work was featured on The Wonder Years, Chicago Hope, 7th Heaven, Lost, Entourage and True Blood, among others.

B.B. King was a prolific musician, singer and songwriter who helped popularize the electric blues genre over the course of a career that spanned more than sixty years. He was also widely acknowledged as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, was the winner of 15 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.Known as “The King of Blues," the tireless performer was still performing more than 200 shows per year well into his seventies.

Born Riley B. King in Itta Bena, Mississippi, King earned a living picking cotton and singing gospel songs on a local street corner. In 1948 he landed a gig on Sonny Boy Williamson's local radio show in Memphis. He met Louis Jordan and T-Bone Walker while in Memphis, where he heard electric guitar for the first time. He scored his first number-one hit in 1951 with "3 O'Clock Blues." Dozens more would follow, including 1954's "You Upset Me Baby" and 1960's "Sweet Sixteen."

King’s work was featured extensively in both film and television, including the movies Thelma & Louise, The Fugitive, Mrs. Doubtfire, Heat and The Rainmaker. For television, his work was featured on The Wonder Years, Chicago Hope, 7th Heaven, Lost, Entourage and True Blood, among others.

King also had some small television roles, including appearances on the series Sanford and Son playing himself; The Cosby Show; Married with Children as a street performer; and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In 1999 he appeared as “The Bluesman” in the television movie Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story, about a 1950s high school rock band.

King died May 14, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 89.

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