Blues Legend: BB King

Riley Ben King (otherwise known to the world as B.B. King) was born in 1925 in rural Mississippi U.S.A. to share cropper parents.

His parents split up when he was four, leaving the young King to be raised by his grandmother who had him regularly attend church where he would sing in the choir.

Whilst still a child, he was first taught to play guitar by his mother’s cousin Bukka White: who was a famed blues guitarist himself.

Around his early twenties in 1947, he left Mississippi to find fame and fortune in Memphis which was the place every aspiring Blues musician needed to be if they wanted to make it big and where they could fine tune their craft.

His career took off in 1948 when he became a regular performer on the Sonny Boy Williams radio show which was being broadcast out of Memphis .

Riley then moved on to one of the few Black owned and ran radio stations where he had his own radio slot called “Kings Spot.”

His show proved to be so popular, that King was given another radio show called the “Sepia Swing Club.”

It was from these radio performances that he would get his stage name.

Changing it from Beale Street Blues Boy to Blues Boy King and then finally BB King.

Maybe the King is gone, but the Blues will never die! Amen! #BBKing

A post shared by BB King (@bbkingofficial) on

During one of his early gigs in the 1950’s, a fight broke out in the crowd over a female, causing the two men involved to knock over a kerosene stove which set the hall on fire.

Whilst he (and everyone else ) rushed out of the building to safety, King had realized that he had left his much loved guitar inside and rushed back into the burning building to save it, barely escaping with his life.

Ever since then he had name that guitar and every other one he bought after that “Lucile” after the girl whom the fight was all over and as a reminder to never to do that again.

Throughout the rest of the fifties, BB King world perform exhaustively, practically almost every night of the year at dance halls, cafe’s, colleges, symphony concert halls and hotels up and down the U.S. and abroad.

What's your best memory about #BBKing?

A post shared by BB King (@bbkingofficial) on

During the sixties he performed with the Rolling Stones as the opening act whilst touring with them in 1969.

The year before that  he had performed at the Newport Folk Festival with all the current rock acts of the time, which endeared him to an almost exclusively white audience.

Always in our hearts. #BBKing

A post shared by BB King (@bbkingofficial) on

During the seventies King was showered with awards such as Honorary Degrees from Tougaloo College in 1973 and Yale in 1977.

In the eighties, he received another degree from Berklee College of Music as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He collaborated with the band U2 on their 1988 album “Rattle and Hum”, particularly on their U.K. top ten hit single “When Love Comes to Town” being released 1989, winning him much younger fans.

In 1991 King was further honored when he had his very own Blues Club open on Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee.

BB King died peacefully in his sleep aged 89, on May 14th 2015.

He was twice married and divorced with the failure of both marriages being caused by him constantly being away from home performing.

He was given a state burial when his body was returned back to Memphis where crowds lined the streets and where the marching band played a rendition  of “When The Saints go Marching In.”

These Ray Ban RB3386 Sunglasses are similar to the ones once worn by BB King, which as well as Gunmetal Poly/Grey/Green also come in CR39 Gunmetal Gradient/Brown,  Silver CR39 Gradient/Grey, Gunmetal Polarized Green and Arista Brown Gradient.

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