BB KingOn 16/09/1925: BB King was born. He was born in Berclair, Mississippi and his birth name was Riley B King. When he was 4 years old his mother left his father for another man. Riley was then brought up by his maternal grandmother in Kilmichael, Mississippi.
King would sing in Elkhorn Baptist's Church's gospel choir when he was young. The minister would lead the worship with a Sears Roebuck Silvertone guitar. The minister would teach King his first three chords. When he was 12 King bought a guitar for $15.00, though it is also claimed by another source that he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother's first cousin.
In 1941 the radio show "King Biscuit Time" started to air and King would listen to it whilst on a break at the plantation.
In 1943 King left to become a tractor driver and play the guitar with the Famous St John's Quartet.
In 1946 King joined Bukka White to live with him in Memphis, Tennessee. He stayed for ten months before returning to Mississippi.
In 1948 he returned to West Memphis, Arkansas. He performed with Sonny Boy Williamson on his radio show on KWEM and regularly performed at Sixteenth Avenue Grill, before later taking up a slot on Memphis station WDIA. The spot was popular and became the Sepia Swing Club. His work on the radio station earned him the name "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "Blues Boy" and then further shortened to B.B. He would meet T-Bone Walker during his radio work, who would inspire him to get an electric guitar.
In 1949 King recorded the song "Miss Martha King" with Bullet Records, which did not receive too much success. In the same year though he started recording with RPM Records, with Sam Phillips producing. King set up his own band called the B.B. King Review. The band included Millard Lee as a band leader, Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands on trumpet; Lawrence Burdin on alto saxophone; George Coleman on tenor saxophone; Floyd Newman on baritone saxophone; Millard Lee on piano; George Joyner on bass; Earl Forest and Ted Curry on drums; and Onzie Horne as an arranger.
King's recording contract then led to tours of the US. He would be a frequent tourer throughout his career, regularly performing 300 nights a year, right up to his death.
Whilst at a show in Twist, Arkansas, a fight started between two men over a woman. The fight caused a fire and the venue was evacuated. King released he had forgotten his guitar and went back in to get it. He named the guitar after the woman, Lucille, as a reminder not to fight over women and not to run into burning buildings.
In 1952 he had a number one in the Billboard Rhythm and Blues Chart with "3 O'Clock Blues". He then continued to produce hits throughout the 1950s with songs including "You Know I Love You", "Woke Up This Morning", "Please Love Me", "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer", "Whole Lotta Love", "You Upset Me Baby", "Every Day I Have the Blues", "Sneakin' Around", "Ten Long Years", "Bad Luck", "Sweet Little Angel", "On My Word of Honor", and "Please Accept My Love". His revenue increased and he began playing major venues.
In 1956 he played 342 concerts and had three recording sessions. In the same year he founded the record label Blue Boys Kingdom, which was based on Beale Street, Memphis. Blue Boys Kingdom would produce artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury.
In 1962 King signed to ABC-Paramount Records, which later became part of MCA Records and in turn became part of Geffen Records.
In 1964 King recorded the album "Live at the Regal", which was recorded at the Regal Theater.
In 1969 King was the opening act for the Rolling Stones' 1969 American Tour.
In 1970 he won a Grammy Award for the song "The Thrill is Gone".
In 1980 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1988 he collaborated with U2 on the song "When Love Comes to Town".
In 1997 he performed at the Vatican's Christmas Concert. Whilst there he presented his trademark guitar "Lucille" to Pope John Paul II.
In 1998 he appeared in the film "The Blues Brothers 2000".
In 2000 he teamed up with Eric Clapton to record the album "Riding with the King". It would win a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
In 2004 he was awarded the International Polar Music Prize.
In 2006 he went on a farewell tour of the UK, Montreux Jazz Festival and Zurich for Blues at Sunset. He was supported by blues guitarist Gary Moore. In June that year he attended the unveiling of a memorial to his first radio broadcast at Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi. In October he recorded the live album "B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis.
In 2007 he played at Eric Clapton's second Crossroads Guitar Festival. He would also that year contribute to the album "Goin' HOme: A Tribute to Fats Domino".
In 2008 The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in Inianola, Mississippi. He was also that year given the key to Manchester, Tennessee when he performed at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
In 2010 he performed at Crossroads Guitar Festival again. He also contributed that year to Cyndi Lauper's album "Memphis Blues".
In 2011 he appeared at Glastonbury Festival and at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Rolling Stone named him that year as No. 6 in their 100 greatest guitarists of all time list.
In 2012 he appeared at the White House as part of the "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues" concert. Also that year he recorded for the rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T's debut album.
In 2013 he featured at New Orleans Jazz Festival.
In 2014 he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame. In October that year he had to stop a live performance after suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. The rest of his shows that year were cancelled.
On 14 May 2015 he died in his sleep. He had been suffering complications from high blood pressure and diabetes.