September 16, 1925, his parents are Albert and Nora Ella King.
Itta Bena, Mississippi
Also Known As:
His full name is Riley B. King; he was named after his uncle. He is known as "The King of the Blues" and nicknamed B.B. which means "Blues Boy." His father fondly called him B.B. too, short for "baby brother" because they were only 18 years apart in age.
Type of Compositions:
B.B. King is primarily known as a blues artist, but he also mixed pop and jazz with the blues.
His first influence came from a preacher and distant relative named Archie Fair. B.B. saw him sing and play the guitar whenever he went to the Holiness Church in Kilmicheal to attend service. At 9 years old, B.B. King was part of a gospel singing group along with his cousin Birkett Davis and friend Walter Doris, Jr. In 1943 after moving to Indianola, they formed a larger group called The Famous St. John's Gospel Singers, consisting of 5 members. B.B. accompanied them with his guitar. Another huge influence was his cousin Bukka White who took him in when B.B. moved to Memphis in 1946. Bukka taught him about the blues.
B.B. was also inspired by other artists like Lowell Fulson, Elmore James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and T-Bone Walker. Among his famous songs are "Three O'Clock Blues," "Woke Up This Morning," "The Thrill Is Gone" and "Sweet Sixteen," to name a few.
B.B. wrote "Woke Up This Morning" after the breakup of his marriage from his first wife. The song "The Thrill Is Gone" was written after his second marriage fell apart. B.B. was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984, received the Presidential Medal of the Arts in 1990 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Yale University, Berklee College of Music, Rhodes College and Tougaloo College.
His first big break came after he played live on a radio station (KWEM) hosted by Sonny Boy Williamson. After that, the station was inundated with phone calls. Later on B.B. was given his own radio show on another station (WDIA}, his show was called "Sepia Swing Club." As a DJ, B.B. needed a name, first he called himself "Beale Street Blues Boy" then changed it to "Blues Boy King" and finally shortened it to B.B. King. In 1952, he went on a national tour, first stop was at the Howard Theater in Washington, D. C. In 1969, B.B. made his first appearance on the Tonight Showand in 1971 performed on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Despite his failed marriages, B.B. has a constant companion named "Lucille." Lucille is the name of the guitar he almost lost during a fire. B.B. risked his life when he went inside the burning building to get his guitar. He later learned that the fire erupted when two men started fighting because of a woman named Lucille. The fighting men reportedly knocked over a barrel of kerosene. B.B. named his guitar Lucille after that, as well as all the other guitars he would later own to remind him "never to do a thing like that again". He mainly plays on a Gibson guitar.
Music video of B.B. King's song "The Thrill is Gone" from Yahoo.