B.B. King

Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 to Albert and Nora Ella King on

Fleetwood Mac with B.B. King
a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi. King was first musically influenced by a preacher named Archie Fair at the Holiness Church in Kilmicheal who helped teach King how to play guitar and sing early in life. In May, 1946, King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee where he received further musical instruction from his uncle, Bukka White. While King worked as a DJ at the WDIA radio station, he adopted the professional name of "The Beale Streets Blues Boy" which was to be shorted later to 'Blues Boy King, and finally to "B.B." King.

King's first recordings were in 1949 for the Bullet Recording and Transcription Company. This led to recognition by the Bihari brothers who signed King for a ten year recording contract with Modern Records. In 1951, King's seventh RPM single, 'Three O'Clock Blues' placed on Billboard's R&B record chart; it reached the number one position in early 1952 and stayed there for fifteen weeks. This hit led to King's first national tour which started at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. The famous 'Big Red' bus was purchased in 1955 and served as the transportation for the touring musician and his band. In 1965 and 1966, mainstream
Peter Green, Duster Bennett, and B.B. King, London Recording Session, picture donated by John Wyber
Peter Green, Duster Bennett, & B.B. King
America learned of B.B. King after he was identified as the major influence for the Butterfield Blues Band, Mike Bloomfield, and Eric Clapton . These events served to propel King into the jazz circuit and, in 1969, King made his first network television appearance on the Johnny Carson show and recorded his first (and only) Top 20 pop hit, 'The Thrill is Gone'. King also appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1971.

B.B. King has been named as a major influence by an overwhelming number of rock guitarists. He has performed with many musicians which he helped to inspire, including U2 on the song 'Angel of Harlem' and Fleetwood Mac. When Peter Green guested on a track for King's Live in London sessions in June 1971, B.B. remembered "a disillusioned and very quiet Peter in the studio who didn't say much at all; but I got the feeling that he just seemed to find it a comfort sitting near to me for a while." In Martin Celmin's biography of Peter Green, B.B. King stated that, "People have told me that in his early years my guitar playing

B.B. King
influenced Peter a lot. Now that's something I take as a great compliment, but I have to tell you that I don't get it myself. When I hear Peter Green....I hear Peter Green." Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks also appeared on King's 1989 album, King of the Blues.

B.B. King's career has spanned more than four decades and he has released more than fifty albums. King has been honored with four Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the title 'The King of the Blues'. King still keeps a very busy schedule, averaging 250 concerts a year, and recently released a new album There is Always One More Time through MCA Records. King stated, "What else am I gonna do? I've got bills to pay, I enjoy working, and I'll keep working until the people don't want to hear me anymore."


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