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B.B. King
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B.B. King

B.B. King (born Riley B. King, September 16, 1925) is an African American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter known for his expressive singing and guitar playing. According to Edward M. Komara, King "introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed." Critical acclaim and widespread popularity have cemented his reputation as possibly the most respected, successful, and most recognized bluesman, not just in the United States, but in the world. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at #3 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time"

Career

King arrived in Memphis for the first time in 1946 to work as a musician, but after a few months of hardship he left, going back to Mississippi. There he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit and returned to Memphis two years later. Initially he worked at the local R&B radio channel WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, where he gained the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "B.B." (normally written with no space between the letters). It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. "Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have [an electric guitar] myself. Had to have one, short of stealing!", he said. In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. Before his RPM contract, King had debuted on Bullet Records by issuing the single "Miss Martha King" (1949), which got a bad review in Billboard magazine and did not chart well.

"My very first recordings [in 1949] were for a company out of Nashville called Bullet, the Bullet Record Transcription company," King recalls. "I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin, played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas Branch, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player."

King assembled his own band; the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee. The band initially consisted of Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano), George Joyner (bass) and Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums). Onzie Horne was a trained musician elicited as an arranger to assist King with his compositions. By his own admission, he cannot play chords well and always relies on improvisation. This was followed by tours across the USA with performances in major theaters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and St. Louis, as well as well as numerous gigs in small clubs and juke joints of the southern US states. King meanwhile toured the entire "Chitlin' circuit" and 1956 became a record-breaking year, with 342 concerts booked. The same year he founded his own record label: Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. There, among other projects, he produced artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury. The record company eventually failed, however, because King's schedule left him too little time for the role of a businessman.

Performing with his famous guitar, Lucille
Courtesy: F. Antolín Hernandez

In the 1950s, B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music, amassing an impressive list of hits including "You Know I Love You," "Woke Up This Morning," "Please Love Me," "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta Love," "You Upset Me Baby," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Sneakin' Around," "Ten Long Years," "Bad Luck," "Sweet Little Angel," "On My Word of Honor," and "Please Accept My Love." In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records, which was later absorbed into MCA Records, and then his current label, Geffen Records. In November 1964, King recorded the Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

King won a Grammy Award for a tune called "The Thrill Is Gone"; his version became a hit on both the pop and R&B charts, which was rare during that time for an R&B artist. It also gained the number 183 spot in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. He gained further visibility among rock audiences as an opening act on The Rolling Stones' 1969 American Tour. King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love".

1980-2000

King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. In 2004 he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists "in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music."

From the 1980s onward King has been recording less, but he has continued to maintain a highly visible and active career, appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year. In 1988, King reached a new generation of fans with the single "When Love Comes to Town", a collaborative effort between King and the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. In 2000, King teamed up with guitarist Eric Clapton to record Riding With the King. In 1998, King appeared in The Blues Brothers 2000, playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley.

B.B. King in concert in France 1989

King owns several clubs in the US, on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, in New Orleans and in Nashville. In addition, he invested in merchandise including barbecue accessories and has endorsed a line of guitar strings.

Since 2004 King has toured less frequently, citing age and health reasons. In the summer of 2005 he undertook a "Final Farewell Tour" of Europe; but in 2006 he performed in both the US and Europe.

Farewell tour

Aged 80 at the time, on March 29, 2006, King played at Hallam Arena in Sheffield, England. This was the first date of his UK and European farewell tour. He played this tour supported by shredder/rocker-turned-bluesman Gary Moore, with whom King had previously toured and recorded, including the song "Since I Met You Baby". The British leg of the tour ended on April 4 with a concert at Wembley Arena.

In July King went back to Europe, playing twice (July 2 and 3) in the 40th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival and also in Zürich at the Blues at Sunset on July 14. During his show in Montreux at the Stravinski Hall he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Lella James, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke. The European leg of the Farewell Tour ended in Luxembourg on September 19, 2006, at the D'Coque Arena (support act: Todd Sharpville).

In November and December, King played six times in Brazil. During a press conference on November 29 in São Paulo, a journalist asked King if that would be the actual farewell tour. He answered: "One of my favorite actors is a man from Scotland named Sean Connery. Most of you know him as James Bond, 007. He made a movie called Never Say Never Again."

In June 2006, King was present at a memorial of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected. The same month, a groundbreaking was held for a new museum, dedicated to King. in Indianola, Mississippi.
The museum opened on September 13, 2008.

In late October 2006, he recorded a concert CD and DVD entitled B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis. The four night production featured his regular B.B. King Blues Band and captured his show as he performs it nightly around the world. It was his first live performance recording in 14 years.

On July 28, 2007, King played at Eric Clapton's second Crossroads Guitar Festival with 20 other guitarists to raise money for the Crossroads Centre for addictive disorders. Performing in Chicago, he played "Paying the Cost to Be the Boss" and "Rock Me Baby" with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan and Hubert Sumlin. In the live broadcast, he offered a toast to the concert's host, Eric Clapton, and philosophized about his age and life. Parts of this performance were subsequently aired in a PBS broadcast and released on the Crossroads II DVD.

2008 - Present

In June 2008, King played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee; he was also the final performer at the 25th annual Chicago Blues Festival on June 8, 2008, and at the Monterey Blues Festival, following Taj Mahal. Another June 2008 event was King's induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame alongside Liza Minnelli and Sir James Galway.

In July 2008, Sirius XM Radio's Bluesville channel was re-named B.B. King's Bluesville.

On December 1, 2008, King performed at the Maryland Theater in Hagerstown, Maryland. On December 3, King and John Mayer were the closing act at the 51st Grammy Nomination Concert, playing "Let the Good Times Roll" by Louis Jordan. On December 30, 2008, King played at The Kennedy Center Honors Awards Show; his performance was in honor of actor Morgan Freeman.

Legacy

Live in Montreux, July 2006

Over a period of 52 years, B.B. King has played in excess of 15,000 performances. He has made guest appearances in numerous popular television shows, including The Cosby Show, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, Married With Children and Sanford and Son.

Personal life

B.B. King at Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

B.B. King is the son of Alfred King and Nora Ella King. He has been married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. Both marriages ended because of the heavy demands made on the marriage by King's 250 performances a year. It is reported that he has fathered 15 children by different women. He has lived with Type II diabetes for over twenty years and is a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products.

His favorite singer is Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography King speaks about how he was, and is, a "Sinatra nut" and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra's classic album In the Wee Small Hours. King has credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who weren't given the chance to play in "white dominated" venues; Sinatra got B.B. King into the main clubs in Las Vegas during the 1960s.

Each year during the first week in June, a B.B. King Homecoming Festival is held in Indianola, Mississippi.

Famed Delta blues artist Bukka White was King's first cousin.

Honors and awards

  • In May 1977, King was awarded an honorary doctorate by Yale University.
  • In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, becoming one of the first artists to be honored by the museum.
  • In 1990 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
  • In 1991 he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA.
  • King was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. This is given to recognize "the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nation's most prestigious artists."
  • In 2004 he was awarded an honorary Ph.D from the University of Mississippi; and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him the Polar Music Prize for his "significant contributions to the blues".
  • On December 15, 2006, President George W. Bush awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • On May 27, 2007, King was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Brown University.
  • On May 14, 2008, King was presented with the keys to the city of Utica, New York; and on May 18, 2008, the mayor of Portland, Maine, Edward Suslovic, declared the day "B. B. King Day" in the city. Prior to King's performance at the Merrill Auditorium, Suslovic presented King with the keys to the city.
A commemorative guitar pick honoring "B. B. King Day" in Portland, Maine.

Grammy Awards

Grammy Awards - King was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. As of 2009, he has won 15 Grammy Awards, of which ten have been the Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album: in 2009 (for One Kind Favor), 2006 (for B.B. King & Friends: 80), 2003 (for A Christmas Celebration of Hope), 2001 (for Riding with the King), 2000 (for Blues on the Bayou), 1994 (for Blues Summit), 1992 (for Live at the Apollo), 1991 (for Live at San Quentin), 1986 (for My Guitar Sings the Blues) and 1984 (for Blues 'N' Jazz). In 1982, he won the Grammy for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording (for There Must Be a Better World Somewhere). The Grammy for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk was last given in 1986; the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album was first given in 1983. In 1997, he won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance (with other artists, for "SRV Shuffle"). In 1971, he won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (for "The Thrill is Gone"). A Grammy Hall of Fame Award was given to "The Thrill is Gone" in 1998, an award given to recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance."

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980

http://www.myspace.com/bbkingmyspace

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