B.B. King (Riley B. King) was an outstanding guitar player and blues performer in the US. Many of his songs like “Three O’Clock Blues” stayed on top of music charts and thanks to this, he became a famous artist in R&B music in the 50’s.
B.B. King (Riley B. King) was an outstanding guitar player and blues performer in the US.
Read more: Famous blues musician B.B. King passed away
King came to this world on the 16th of November, 1925 in Itta Bena, a small town in Mississippi in a sharecropper household. When he was 4, his parents broke up and the child was brought up by Elnora Farr, King’s loving grandmother. King’s talent as an artist showed up in his childhood when he preformed in a church choir. When he was 12, he bought himself a guitar, though another origin says that his mother’s cousin presented him the guitar.
When he was 18, he waved goodbye to his grandmother’s house and went to work as a machine driver and participated in the glorious St. John’s 4-men group in Inverness, Mississippi. Later, he was performing on KWEM radio spot, located in West Memphis. Then King started gathering his audience. He was granted a 10-minute air time on WDIA radio that soon became very popular. At WDIA King is believed to earn his worldwide known scenic name. At first he worked there as the singer with an alias, “Beale Street Blues Boy”. It was later cut to “Blues Boy” and, at last, to B.B.
Since 1949 King’s career was growing by leaps and bounds. He walked into the universe of musical industry with his work, “Miss Martha King”, but it wasn’t accepted as granted. Then he began recording his songs on popular recording studio, RPM Records. Soon, King created his group, B.B. King Review with Millard Lee, the group leader. Riley’s contract also meant live shows all over the US. During one of these tours, two men started a fight that brought on a blaze in the room. King’s group was successfully evacuated, but he returned back for his favorite instrument. Later he inquired that rivals were quarreling for a woman and one of them fell down as the victim of the accident. King called his instrument Lucille (the name of the woman, the men argued for) as a remembrance not to argue because of a woman.
Many of his songs like “Three O’Clock Blues” stayed on top of music charts and thanks to this, he became a famous artist in R&B music in the 50’s. As more of his hits came out, his earnings also increased from $85 to $2,500 while he gave live performances on the most famous stages of that time. 1956 was the golden year for B.B., as more than 340 performances were booked and he created his recording label, Blues Boys Kindom. King also won the Grammy award for “The Thrill is Gone”, that ranks 183 in the list of the 500 greatest songs ever. Since 1980s King was a frequent guest on TV-shows and often performed 300 days a year, creating a new army of fans that grew on his “When Love Comes to Town” song. In 2006 King went on his last world tour, though he still continued his public work.
King was married two times, but none of these marriages last a decade as none of them passed the test of 250 King’s performances per year. King is believed to be a father to 15 of his children and grandfather to 50 of his grandchildren. He suffered from diabetes and often took part in advertisements against the illness. He loved Frank Sinatra’s works as a singer so much that he even couldn’t fall asleep without listening to his works. He also honored Sinatra very much for the fact that Sinatra actually opened the doors to black-skinned artists that weren’t able to perform in white-skinned communities.
The hard and intense work influenced badly on the King’s health and on October, 14 he had to stop the live show due to bad health. Doctor that examined King, stated dehydration and overall exhaustion. This made him to cancel eight remaining performances and not to schedule any more shows till the end of the year. Then King left home to recover, but after two hospitalizations, he was transferred to hospice in Nevada. There he passed away peacefully on the 89th year of his life.
B.B. King wrote many hits, for years he was one of the biggest names on the black radio. Though he was a blues musician, his entire life, he was also keeping an eye on the music flows that changed during his life. Now we’re offering your attention a list of the most popular songs, created by the famous musician.
1. Three O’Clock Blues (1951)
It wasn’t King’s first single, it was the cover version of Lowell Fulson’s song with the same name. This song brought attention, fame and glory to King, staying on top of the music charts for weeks.
2. Every Day I Have The Blues (1955)
King’s performance of this hit may have been left unnoticed as his rivals recorded another version of this song that same year, but this song was the ancestor of the blues standard we know now. As for King, he always said that it was all the tune of the song that made it successful.
3. Sweet Sixteen (1960)
King turned to softer pop ballads in the 50s, trying to increase the number of his fans, but he didn’t succeed in this and his career as the R&B singer almost stopped and none of his songs got into the 1959 charts. So King went back to the things, he did best and this is how the “Sweet Sixteen” appeared.
4. The Thrill Is Gone (1970)
This King’s greatest pop hit is a radical rework of the original song, created by Roy Hawkings in 1951. The song is about a man that once was kicked by the life and one can see the thoughts of this man, from blind anger to cold vengeance.
5. Chains and Things (1970)
King began paying more attention to rock- and pop- arrangements after the success of The Thrill Is Gone. He created another hit that is a slow and full of sorrow song, whose most noticeable phrase was made by mistake. As explained by King, he hit the wrong note by mistake and improvised his way out.