Tuesday, May 19, 2015
A great man has left us. On May 14th, 2015, Riley B. King, BB King, known as the King of the Blues, died at the age of 89 in his home in Las Vegas.
This man has been a great influence on me, and was one of the men who made me want to play guitar when I was 7.
BB King, was born in 1925 in the Mississippi Delta. When he was about 8 or 9 years old, his mother and father separated. BB went to his Grandmother after his mother died of diabetes. He went to church, and the Reverend came in with an electric guitar. Sometimes, when the Reverend was at BB’s grandma’s house, BB would play that guitar. At twelve years old, he got his first guitar for $15.00. Later on, he played around the Mississippi Delta and became known as the Blues Boy, or BB. He got a band together called the BB King Review, filled with horns, a drummer, a pianist, and another guitarist.
He made a lot of famous songs, such as “Everyday I Got the Blues”, “The Thrill is Gone”, and “Rock Me Baby”, and has played with many famous people such as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.
In 1949, he played at a dance hall with his $30 Gibson. To keep the heat in the hall, there were barrels of kerosene being burned, a common practice at the time. Two men were fighting and toppled a burning barrel over and caught the building on fire. BB rushed outside, and then remembered he had left his guitar in there. He went back in and got the guitar out. He then found out the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named the guitar he had and all further guitars Lucille to remind him not to fight about women and don’t do anything stupid like going back in a burning building for a guitar.
In the late 80’s and the 90’s, BB King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. On January 4th, 2013, my mom and I saw him live at the Sunrise Theater in Ft. Pierce Florida. I still have the ticket stubs and some BB King guitar picks from the experience. BB was still touring in early 2015, but had to cancel the rest of his 2015 tour, because he had diabetes and blood pressure problems. Later on, he was in hospice care, which meant that he was tired of all the medication and doctors, and if he’s going to go, he’s going to do it in the comfort of his own home, with the people and things he loved. On the night of May 14th, 2015, BB King passed away peacefully in his sleep. The thrill is gone, but if there’s a rock and roll Heaven you know they got a Hell of a band, and that band just got a Hell of a lot better. Thank you BB. Rest in peace, man. Rest in peace.