Photo credits: Scott Harrison | Getty Images
On Sept. 16, 1925, legendary blues musician Riley “B.B.” King was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
His distinctive vocal and guitar style helped popularize the Blues among mainstream audiences, and he is responsible for blues classics such as “Payin’ the Cost to Be the Boss,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” “How Blue Can You Get” and “Everyday I Have the Blues.”
Before he found success as a musician, King worked as a disc jockey in Memphis, Tennessee, and became known as the Beale Street Blues Boy, earning him the moniker “B.B.” Soon after, he began playing with other local up-and-coming artists such as Bobby Blue Bland in a group called the Beale Streeters.
King is known for maintaining a grueling schedule, performing nearly 200 to 300 shows per year at the peak of his career.
He was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1987 and received a number of honorary degrees from several U.S. universities.
In October 2014, the 89-year-old King fell onstage during a performance at Chicago’s House of Blues and canceled several upcoming gigs. In a statement issued on his web site after the fall, it said the singer had been “diagnosed with dehydration and suffering from exhaustion.” But no matter where he was, King had his signature guitar “Lucille” in his hands.
While in hospice care, King died in his sleep on May 14, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving behind an enduring musical legacy.
Source: The BET Network, Biography.com, and the A&E Television Network