Sunday, April 23, 2017

Blues Don B.B. King passed, aged 89…

B.B. KingB.B. King, whose inimitable guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname ‘King Of The Blues’, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He as 89. His attorney, Brent Bryson, told The Associated Press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 09:40pm PST. Although he had continued to perform well into his 80’s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and had been in declining health during the past year. He collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion.
After two hospitalizations caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes, King had himself announced on his website on May O1 that he was in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada…

Born Sept. 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, MS, Riley Ben King spent the rest of his childhood with his grandma after his father abandoned the family and his mother died when he was 9 years old. He would attend school which he never finished and work at the cotton fields. He got his first guitar at the age of 14 and started singing Gospel songs and went to live with his father’s new family in Lexington after his grandmother died the year after. Country Music, Gospel and Mississipi Delta Blues would be the foundations of his style back then.
He moved to Memphis, TN in 1946 to live by his cousin, Bukka White, himself a famous Delta Blues singer and guitartist who got him deeper into the art of playing the Blues. He then would work as a DJ on local radio station WDIA, where he got the nickname ‘Beale Street Blues Boy’ which would turn into ‘Blues Boy’, then being shortened into ‘B.B.’ which folllowed him during his lifetime.
King signed his first record deal at the end of the 40’s with Bullet Records, then switched to RPM where he got his first hit – ‘Three O’ Clock Blues’ – back in 1951…

According to Edward M. Komara, B.B. 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.” He is considered one of the most influential Blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King).
“King’s is now the name most synonymous with the Blues, much as Louis Armstrong’s once was with Jazz”, wrote critic Francis Davis in his 1995 published book ‘The History Of The Blues. “You don’t have to be a Blues fan to have heard of King…”

B.B. King‘s guitar style was distinctive, displaying influences from the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker. He was known for his complex string bends and his left hand vibrato, which have themselves been influential to many guitarists (Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards to name but a few). King’s sound blended elements of Blues, Jazz, Swing, and eventually Pop Music on occasions. King said: “When I sing, I play in my mind. The minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.”

For most of a career spanning nearly 70 years, Riley B. King recorded more than 50 albums and toured the world, appearing at 250–300 concerts per year until his seventies. In 1956, it was noted that he did 342 shows. He eventually kept on appearing at an average 100 shows a year through the end of his career…

Lucille…
In the winter of 1949, B.B. King played at a dance hall in Twist, AK. To get to heat the hall, a barrel half-filled with kerosene was eventuaaly lit, which a fairly common practice back then. Then, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel menwhile sending burning fuel across the floor. The hall burst into flames, and the building was evacuated. Once outside, King realized he’d left his guitar inside, so he went back into the burning building to retrieve his beloved $30 Gibson guitar.
He learned the next day that the two men who died in the fire had been fighting over a woman named Lucille. He as a consequence named that guitar Lucille, as well as every guitar he owned since as a reminder to never do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women.
He later wrote the song of the name in which he talked about his guitar and how it got its name. The song was first released as part of his ‘Lucille’ album released back in 1968 on ‘Bluesway’, and is included on the ‘B.B. King Anthology 1962–1998’ album…

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