Riley B.B.King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), The King of the Blues
I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps*
The guitar that weeps today is Lucille,.the faithful guitar of Riley B. King, will feel his fingers on her fretboard no more… and the world has lost one of the best when B.B.King joined heaven’s band yesterday. B..B.King’s career has spanned seven decades, over forty albums, fifteen Grammys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy in 1987. Here are some of the other awards and honors bestowed on B.B.King…
- In 1977, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music by Yale University.
- In 1980, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
- In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
- In 1990, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
- In 1991, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA.
- A commemorative guitar pick honoring “B.B. King Day” in Portland, Maine.
- King was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. This is given to recognize “the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nation’s most prestigious artists.”
- In 2004, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him the Polar Music Prize for his “significant contributions to the blues”.
- On December 15, 2006, President George W. Bush awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Regarding his playing and performing B.B.King was always at the top of any list of the best guitar players and he was always constantly performing…
Rolling Stone ranked King number 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (previously ranked number 3 in the 2003 edition of the same list). He was ranked No. 17 in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. According to Edward M. Komara, King “introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed.” King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King). King was also known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s Full Biography at Wikipedia
The first B.B.King album to enter my library was his 1969 release Live & Well. Through the years this short song from Steve Goodman often plays in the jukebox in my mind…..
My wife can’t stand Blues music, so needless to say this has never been a favorite little song of hers.
B.B.King’s last performance was a performance at the House of Blues in Chicago on October 3, 2014. The performance was cut short because B.B. was, not feeling well enough, His illness led to the cancellation of the rest of his 2014 schedule. On May 1, 2015 it was announced on King’s website that the 89 year-old King was in hospice care. This action followed two hospitalizations caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes, B.B.King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 PM PDT in his Las Vegas, Nevada home.
So farewell B.B.King thanks for 70 years of great blues and everything that you did for everyone around the world!! Here’s a performance of one of my favorite’s from B.B.King “Caldonia” from a 1993 concert in Taiwan….
* from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by: Lennon, Harrison and McCartney