What Legendary Bluesman, B.B. King Meant To Us

May 15, 2015

Riley B. King, the guitarist better known as B.B. King, whose voice brought blues to the mainstream, died Thursday night. He was 89.

His daughter, Patty King, said he died in Las Vegas, where he announced two weeks ago that he was in home hospice care after suffering from dehydration.

What do you remember about B.B. King? Share with us in the comments below. 

First Impressions

B.B. King's music means so much to me.  My first B.B. King LP was "Live In Cook County Jail".  I'd never heard something so honest, true, relaxed, emotionally raw, moving and humanly funny.  The album opened me up to a whole new world of music when I was "sweet 19".  Thank you, B.B. King for all you gave for so long to so many.  - Linda Yohn 

The Stories of the Music 

During the early 70's, I worked with his preferred sound company for the region and was privileged to do several shows throughout the area with B.B. King and his band.  While he was always working regularly, he was not so far removed from the Chitlin Circuit that the band weren't traveling in some funky vehicles wearing some well worn tuxedos.  

Still they were sharp dressers and were airtight when it came to the music.  This was a large band, second guitar, keys, at least 3 horns and BB drove them like a sports car.  In his mid-forties at the time, he was at the height of his powers as a singer and guitar player.  All these years later, he was still offering up a taste of that smokin' band for a few tunes before sitting down to play, reminisce and tell stories.  Back in the day, I was the lucky guy sitting at the mixing console who could tweak that blazing guitar a bit louder when needed and chat with BB and the band while packing up after the show. - Joe Tiboni

A Blues Ambassador

To so many people, B.B. King was the face of the blues, but to those of us who love this music, he was so much more.  He was an ambassador, a teacher and a great example for every generation for close to 65 years.  One of my favorite memories was watching the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995.  Watch this clip of so many of his peers paying tribute. I was only privileged to see him once, many years ago at Hill Auditorium and it was a night to remember. - Wendy Wright



B.B. King at Eastern Michigan University

B.B. King At Eastern Michigan University

Listener Mike Watts shared this poster from B.B. King on Campus, 1972 at Bowen Field House!

Last Performance In Ann Arbor

Last summer I was fortunate enough to see BB King at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.  He had to be helped onto the stage and seemed so frail that I wasn't sure what to expect.  But, the minute his fingers touched the strings of his beloved Lucille, there was no doubt that it was BB King and he hadn't missed a beat.  One more legendary performance of so many.  We will miss you, BB. - Molly Motherwell, WEMU GM

 From NPR News

It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

He was born Riley B. King on a plantation in Itta Bena, Miss. He played on street corners before heading to Memphis, Tenn., where he stayed with his cousin, the great country bluesman Bukka White. His career took off thanks to radio; he got a spot on the radio show of Sonny Boy Williamson II, then landed his own slot on black-run WDIA in Memphis. He needed a handle. At first it was Beale Street Blues Boy. Then Blues Boy King. Finally B.B. King stuck.

Once Upon A Time In Europe: Guitarist Bobby Murray Remembers B.B. King

It was 1989, I was a member of Etta James' Roots Band and we were touring Europe. Etta had mounted a big comeback and she was starting to receive what she so richly deserved. She had recently signed with Island and "Seven Year Itch" was hot. We were playing great festivals and gigs. She and the band absolutely tore it up the night before at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  (full story) - Bobby Murray


B.B. King Remembered by Celebrities Ringo Starr, Joe Perry, Gene Simmons and More 

Ultimate Classic Rock,