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B.B. King Profile

By

B.B. King

B.B. King

Photo courtesy Geffen Records

B.B. King Profile:

Born: September 16, 1925 in Indianola MS

Riley B. King, known to the world as larger-than-life blues guitarist B.B. King, is one of a handful of the most influential bluesmen of the 20th century. Although King's fluid, muscular guitar tone and smoky vocals are informed by the Mississippi Delta that he grew up in, his sound is equal parts electric Chicago blues and early jazz guitar, influenced by both Louis Jordan and Charlie Christian. With a career that has spanned six decades and over 50 albums, King reigns as one of the most popular and successful bluesmen of the genre.

Blues Boy King

After working as a sharecropper in Mississippi, King went to Memphis in 1947 and studied guitar with his cousin, bluesman Bukka White. King launched his music career by performing in Beale Street clubs, and hosting a ten-minute show on local radio station WDIA. King's nickname, "Beale Street Blues Boy" was eventually shortened to "Blues Boy," and then just B.B.

The Hitmaker

King began recording in 1949, and scored his first hit in 1951 with "Three O' Clock Blues." Over the next 35 years, King placed an amazing 74 songs on the Billboard charts, recording for the Bullet, RPM, Kent and ABC-Paramount labels before landing at MCA in the late-1970s. King's best known hit is 1970's "The Thrill Is Gone," but his 1955 hit "Every Day I Have The Blues" remains a crowd favorite, and King's take on "Sweet Sixteen" remains the classic version.

The Road Warrior

Aside from his success as a recording artist, King's dedication to performing live - over 200 nights a year for the past 50 years - has won him a loyal audience of both blues and rock fans. During 1956 alone, King in his band notched 342 nights on the road.

King has collaborated on album with peers like John Lee Hooker and Etta James as well as students like Eric Clapton, and has recorded several albums with his friend, R&B vocalist Bobby "Blue" Bland. King is a member of both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1991, the first B.B. King's Blues Club opened on Beale Street in Memphis, back where it all began. In 2014, The Life of Riley documentary film was released, the movie covering King from his childhood in Mississippi to his worldwide superstardom.

Recommended Albums: King's The Millennium Collection includes all of the hits, but King's Live In Cook Country Jail offers the guitarist in his natural environment - on stage and entertaining the audience. King's award-winning 2008 release, One Kind Favor is a late-career masterpiece.

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