Music lovers worldwide are reeling from the news that one of the world’s greatest musical genius’, BB King has died at the age of 89.
While we are so sad that this incredible talent has gone from us, I have to admit that to leave this world having left such an indelible mark and having changed the face of music as we know it is a pretty good legacy to leave behind.
He was without a doubt the The King of the Blues and had hits with songs such as Lucille, Sweet Black Angel and Rock Me Baby, and was the recipient of a total of 15 Grammy Awards during what can only be called an illustrious career.
Born Riley Ben King in September of 1925 on a cotton plantation in Mississippi, he was raised by his maternal Grandmother after his mother left his father for another man. In his youth he sang in the gospel choir. He purchased his first guitar at around 12 years of age, for the princely sum of $15.
Along with contemporaries such as Howling Wolf and Muddy Water, he took on a name to perform under, the BB stood for Blues Boy. He had a world-weary voice and with his wailing guitar it took him from the oppressed cotton fields of 1940s Mississippi to the top of the world stage with his inimitable American Blues.
King introduced a unique and sophisticated style of playing that influenced virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time. In his 1996 autobiography, Blues All Around Me, he said, “I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions.” A lot of his music is redolent of pain with a voice that groans and bends with the weight of lust, love, and longing.
Tributes have poured in far and wide and even on my own local soil, tales are swapped of times people met him and the gigs they saw him at.
This is the performance that the man himself called his best performance ever… the clip is from 1970, Cook County Jail, Chicago, Illinois.
BB King died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas.
The world has truly lost a legend.
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