Los Angeles – Blues guitarist, BB King, died on Thursday in Las Vegas, after years of struggling with diabetes.
His lawyer, on Friday in Los Angeles, confirmed that the 89 years old guitarist had been in hospital in recent weeks, and had struggled with diabetes for several years.
King was the last of the legendary blues artists to come out of the Mississippi Delta. Born Riley B King on Sept. 16, 1925, he started life as the son of sharecroppers in rural Mississippi.
His father left the family when King was four, and his mother died when he was nine. The young King made ends meet driving a tractor.
But his heart was in music, singing in gospel choirs, teaching himself to play guitar and playing on street corners for tips with his band, the St. John’s Famous Gospel Singers.
He got his big break, and a new name, in the late 1940s in Memphis, Tennessee, when a radio show there hired him on as the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” later shortened to “Blues Boy” and then to BB.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
The unique style he developed in Memphis, bends and vibrato that made his guitar sing, went on to define a genre.
He hit the big time at the end of the 1960s, with the hit song that would become his signature, The Thrill is Gone.
The list of dozens of his classic hits includes Sweet Little Angel and Why I Sing the Blues. King won more Grammys for his blues 15, than anyone before or since.
In 1987, the Recording Academy gave him another, for lifetime achievement – little knowing that he would continue adding to his repertoire for another quarter-century.
He was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Rolling Stone named him at Number 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Nearly 50 years, and 50 albums, into his career, King crowned himself King of the Blues, with a compilation set of the same name.
The best-known blues musician in the world, the world treated him like music royalty.
In 2012, he played at the White House for U.S. President Barack Obama, who joined him on stage for a few bars of Sweet Home Chicago.
King married twice, but both marriages ended in divorce when he was constantly on the road. He was said to have fathered 15 children with 15 different women and to have more than 50 grandchildren.
King admired jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker and called jazz, the “big brother” of the blues.
King wrote in his 2011 autobiography “The blues are a simple music, and I am a simple man.
“But the blues aren’t a science; the blues can’t be broken down like mathematics. The blues are a mystery, and mysteries are never as simple as they look,’’ he said. (dpa/NAN)