King Of The Blues
Riley B. King, the iconic guitarist known as B.B. King, whose expressive style brought blues from the margins to the mainstream, died Thursday night.
He was 89.
His daughter, Patty King, said he died in Las Vegas, where he announced two weeks ago that he was in home hospice care after suffering from dehydration.
King, a Mississippi native, has been influencing rock and blues musicians such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, and so many others for over six decades. He was truly “the king of blues.”
He didn’t just influence musicians. His music had an impact on a large variety of people, from all generations who were exposed to his music.
Even after achieving honors such as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, he maintained a relentless touring schedule well into his 80s.
King finally started showing signs of his age last year after decades of living with Type II diabetes. He was hospitalized for dehydration in April in Las Vegas.
He got his first big break in 1948 by performing on Sonny Boy Williamson‘s radio program out of West Memphis, leading to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and a 10-minute spot on WDIA.
Into his late eighties, King toured the world year-round as the unrivaled ambassador of the blues. His indelible style – a throaty vocals paired with a ringing single-note vibrato sound played on his electric guitar named Lucille – defined the genre. He won 15 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
His attorney, Brent Bryson, confirmed his death to the Associated Press.