B.B. King is the King of the Blues

Life journey

Recognized as the “King of the Blues”, B.B. King has long been among the most influential musicians in the world. The legendary performer’s name was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Born on a cotton plantation, at the height of his fame he gave hundreds of concerts a year. The record year for B.B. King was 1956, when the musician took the stage more than 340 times. B.B. King (B.B. King, real name – Riley B. King, Riley B. King) was born on September 16, 1925 in the American state of Mississippi. His mother abandoned her son when he was only four years old. His father then had to work very hard, so the upbringing of the child was mainly occupied by his grandmother. In his youth, BB sang in the church choir. The first guitar appeared at the boy about twelve years of age. In 1943, King, quitting his job as a tractor driver, decided to devote his life to creativity. Leaving Kilmichael, where his grandmother lived, he rushed to Memphis. However, in the state of Tennessee, the future star had a hard time. After a few months, unable to withstand the hardships, the guitarist returned home, where he continued to study music. A couple of years later, King’s talent was appreciated at a radio station in West Memphis, where he performed as a singer and disc jockey. It was there that the artist was nicknamed “Blues Boy” (Blues Boy), a shortened version of this stage name that would later become well known in the music world.

The breakthrough came in 1949, when King managed to record the first four tracks for Jim Bulleit’s Bullet Records. Then a contract was signed with the Los Angeles studio RPM. Compositions for it were produced by another relative of the musician – Sam Phillips, who at that time was actively cooperating with famous American bluesmen. During the 1950s, King’s fame only gained momentum. The musician quickly took a place among the most notable rhythm and blues musicians. The United States enthusiastically received compositions like You Know I Love You, Sneakin’ Around, Bad Luck and Please Accept My Love, as well as other B.B. King songs. Instead of $85, the artist was already earning $2,500 for the week.

In 1970, The Thrill Is Gone won a Grammy Award, and Rolling Stone magazine listed the song among the “greatest songs of all time”. Subsequently, the musician will receive the Grammy more than once. Different albums will receive the award, as well as B.B. King himself – for his “life achievements”. Yes, and the list of other awards, which during the creative path awarded to the performer, strikes the imagination with its length. B.B. King was officially married twice. However, neither Martha Lee Denton, nor Sue Carol Hall did not suit too tight schedules of performances of the famous spouse. According to the American press, the king of the blues had many novels. Different women gave birth to him at least fifteen children. Up until the early 2000s B.B. King actively toured. In 2004, having celebrated his 75th birthday, the musician announced that he would perform less often. However, despite the “Farewell Tour” through Europe in the summer of 2005, he returned there a year later. Performances continued in his native States as well. In the fall of 2014, B.B. King, who has lived over twenty years with type 2 diabetes, already seriously admitted that he stops concert activity. In the spring of 2015, the musician was urgently hospitalized due to a sharp deterioration of his condition. Despite all the efforts of doctors, the disease went too far… On May 14, 2015, B.B. King died in his own home in Las Vegas (USA) due to complications of diabetes. The artist was 89 years old.

Some quotes

The water from a black fountain tastes no worse than white water.
Many people believe what other people say.

If you can’t get your songs to people one way, you have to find another way.

When I was growing up, I was taught that a man must protect his family. When the wolf tries to come in, you have to stand in the doorway.

Blues was like the problem child that can be in a family. You’re a little embarrassed to show him to others, but you love him. You just don’t know how others will receive him.

Yes, I love women more than anything else in the world, but that doesn’t mean I want to sleep with them all. Let me explain. It’s like looking at a rose. A rose is a rose. It’s beautiful. But that doesn’t mean you have to pick it and put it on your lapel.

It seems like I’ve always had to work harder than other people. At night, when everyone else is asleep, I sit in my room and try to play scales.

I think I started liking the blues when I was about 6 or 7 years old. There was something about it because nobody else was playing that kind of music.

I tried to relate my voice to my guitar and my guitar to my voice. How they both speak to each other.

I don’t think anybody steals anything; we all borrow.

No one loves me except my mother, and maybe she’s cheating on me too.

The beautiful thing about teaching is that no one will take that away from you.
If there were no women, I wouldn’t want to be on this planet. Women, friends and music – without those three things I wouldn’t want to be here.

I never wanted to be like other blues singers. I could listen to them play, but I never wanted to be anything other than me. There are a few people that look like I wanted to play like, but when I tried, it didn’t work out.

I don’t have a favorite song of the ones I’ve written. But my favorite song is “Always On My Mind,” the Willie Nelson version. If I could sing it the way he did, I’d sing it every night. I love the story it tells.

I never use that word, retire.

When I am finally gone, I pray to God that it will happen in one of three ways. One, on stage or when I walk off stage, two, it’s in a dream. What’s the third? You’ll have to guess for yourself!

Translated with DeepL.com (free version)


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