B.B. King Biography
Riley B. King aka B. B. King (born September 16, 1925) is an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is widely considered one of the best (and most respected) blues musicians in the world. One of his trademarks is "Lucille", a custom guitar he began using in the 1950s.
Contrary to popular belief, B.B. King grew up in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles based RPM Records. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded the legendary Sun Records.
In the 1950s, King became one of the most important names in R&B music, collecting an impressive list of hits under his belt that included songs like "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". In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records.
In November of 1964, King recorded the legendary Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
King first found success outside of the blues market with the 1969 remake of the Roy Hawkins tune, "The Thrill Is Gone," which became a hit on both pop and R&B charts, which was rare for an R&B artist. He gained further rock visibility as an opening act on The Rolling Stones' much-ballyhooed 1969 American Tour. King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love." From 1951 to 1985, King appeared on Billboard's R&B charts an amazing 74 times.
The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s saw King recording less and less, but maintaining a highly visible and active career appearing on numerous television shows, major motion pictures and performing 300 nights a year. In 1988 he reached a new generation of fans via the single "When Love Comes To Town", together with the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. In 2000, King teamed up with guitarist Eric Clapton to record Riding With the King.
In 2003, he shared the stage with the rock band Phish in New Jersey, performing three of his classics and jamming with the band for over 30 minutes.
In 2004, King was awarded an honorary Ph.D from the University of Mississippi and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him the Polar Music Prize, for his "significant contributions to the blues". King had also donated his extensive blues collection to the Ole Miss Center for Southern Studies.
In June 2006, King was present at a memorialization of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected.
Over the years more than 100 BB King concerts have been broadcast, at least partly, on radio and TV in many countries.
At 81, King has lived a very full and active life. He has been a licensed pilot, a known gambler and is also a vegetarian, non-drinker and non-smoker. King has lived with diabetes for over ten years and has been a visible spokesman in the fight against diabetes, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products.