B.B. King

Riley King, real name B. B. King was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi (on a cotton plantation), on September 16, 1925, to a guitarist father who accompanied his mother, a preacher of sermons in the Methodist Church. This is a typical situation of many American blues and jazz musicians, an “existential” imprint typical of the development of blues music. In fact, it is thanks to these stimuli that the young musician begins to sing with his mother, who unfortunately dies when he is only seven years old. Raised by his grandparents, he received his first guitar at the age of fourteen and with it he began to sing in Gospel groups in nearby towns and also during his military service in 1944 in Memphis. During this period he met a cousin, a well-known bluesman called “Bukka White”. He then began to approach the world of black music, although his beginnings in show business saw him behind a radio console as a conductor in a local radio station. It’s here that he begins to call himself “Riley King, the blues boy from Beale street”, then adopting the pseudonym Blues Boy, which soon becomes only B. B. King. Disbanded the role of “DJ”, his career as a guitarist begins playing on street corners. Thanks to the support of his cousin Bukka White he managed to get noticed and, in 1948, he performed on a radio show with Sonny Boy Williamson. Since then he has been getting regular gigs here and there, bewitching anyone who can hear his music. In the ’50s is the famous episode to which B.B. indissolubly links the name of his guitar “Lucille”. During a performance in a room warmed by the flames of an improvised stove in Kerosene, two men start fighting over a woman, Lucille. During the fight that breaks out, the room catches fire, everyone runs away, but B.. B. goes back inside to retrieve his instrument, which has been named after the woman ever since. His first success “Three O’Clock Blues”, brings him to be known nationwide and since then his concert activity becomes almost frenetic. Following the rise of the blues in the United States as well as in Europe, B.B.’s success. crosses national borders until 1967, when he performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The artists who declare B. B. King are not counted among their main influences: Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Rush, Johnny Winter, Albert King and many others and there is no blues guitarist, famous or unknown, who doesn’t have in his repertoire some phrasing of the “maestro”. Over the years, countless awards come from the Grammy Awards to many awards related to the world of music and art. In 1996, his autobiography “Blues All Around Me” was published. Until the end of his life, B. B. King was one of the most appreciated and followed performers in the music scene. Among a thousand influences, compromises, concessions to the world of entertainment, one cannot deny him the fact that he has brought the blues to a very wide audience and has contributed with his figure to the success of this musical genre. A beautiful statement of his says: “Many nights have passed traveling, from one city to another without a break, for over 50 years. I’ve recorded a lot of records, I’ve had, like everyone else, good times and bad times, but Blues has always been the constant in my life. I may have lost the emotion for other things, but not the Blues. It has been a long journey, difficult and hard, the nightlife on the street is certainly not a healthy and beautiful life, full of goodbyes and loneliness, but also capable of great emotions; if I went back I would make the same choice again because the night with everything it represents has bn my life”. He died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas on May 14, 2015.

Discography

1957 – Singin’ the Blues
1958 – The Blues
1959 – B. B. King Wails
1959 – Sings Spirituals
1960 – The Great B. B. King
1960 – My Kind of Blues
1961 – Blues for Me
1962 – Blues in My Heart
1962 – Easy Listening Blues
1963 – B. B. King
1963 – Mr. Blues
1966 – Confessin’ the Blues
1968 – Blues on Top of Blues
1968 – Lucille
1969 – Live & Well
1969 – Completely Well
1970 – Indianola Mississippi Seeds
1971 – Live in Cook County Jail
1971 – B.B. King in London
1972 – L.A. Midnight
1972 – Guess Who
1973 – To Know You Is to Love You
1974 – Friends
1977 – King Size
1978 – Midnight Believer
1979 – Take It Home
1981 – There Must Be a Better World Somewhere 
1982 – Love Me Tender
1983 – Blues ‘N’ Jazz – Grammy Award 
1985 – Six Silver Strings
1989 – King of Blues
1991 – There Is Always One More Time
1993 – Blues Summit 
1995 – Lucille & Friends
1997 – Deuces Wild 
1998 – Blues on the Bayou 
1999 – Let the Good Times Roll
2000 – Riding with the King
2000 – Makin’ Love Is Good for You
2001 – A Christmas Celebration of Hope
2003 – Reflections
2005 – B. B. King & Friends: 80
2008 – One Kind Favor

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