Legendary Bluesman B.B. King Dies at 89



We’ve lost one of the great ones. Legendary Blues Guitarist and singer B.B. King died last night in his sleep.

The AP obituary via the Joplin Globe: ‘King of the Blues’ blues legend B.B. King dead at age 89.

LAS VEGAS —€” B.B. King, whose scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He was 89.

His attorney, Brent Bryson, told The Associated Press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. PDT. He said funeral arrangements were underway….

 Although he had continued to perform well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and had been in declining health during the past year. He collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion. He had been in hospice care at his Las Vegas home.

For most of a career spanning nearly 70 years, Riley B. King was not only the undisputed king of the blues but a mentor to scores of guitarists, who included Eric Clapton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Keith Richards. He recorded more than 50 albums and toured the world well into his 80s, often performing 250 or more concerts a year.

King played a Gibson guitar he affectionately called Lucille with a style that included beautifully crafted single-string runs punctuated by loud chords, subtle vibratos and bent notes.

The result could bring chills to an audience, no more so than when King used it to full effect on his signature song, “The Thrill is Gone.” He would make his guitar shout and cry in anguish as he told the tale of forsaken love, then end with a guttural shouting of the final lines: “Now that it’s all over, all I can do is wish you well.”

Live at the BBC, 1989


BBC Newsbeat: BB King’s influence on modern music.

Nicknamed “The King of Blues”, Riley B. King recorded dozens of albums and toured the world well into his 80s, wowing audiences and inspiring generations of musicians.

He was a mentor to many famous guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.

His style inspired many to learn the instrument.

“BB, anyone could play a thousand notes and never say what you said in one,” tweeted Lenny Kravitz in tribute.

BB King was ranked No. 6 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

He was known for his sophisticated soloing, subtle vibratos and bend notes – playing on the Gibson guitar he called Lucille.

Live at Sing Sing Prison in the 1970s


This is an open thread. Dakinikat will have a Friday Reads post a little later on.

27 Comments on “Legendary Bluesman B.B. King Dies at 89”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    New York Times Obituary:

    B.B. King, Defining Bluesman for Generations, Dies at 89.

    “Growing up on the plantation there in Mississippi, I would work Monday through Saturday noon,” he said. “I’d go to town on Saturday afternoons, sit on the street corner, and I’d sing and play.

    “I’d have me a hat or box or something in front of me. People that would request a gospel song would always be very polite to me, and they’d say: ‘Son, you’re mighty good. Keep it up. You’re going to be great one day.’ But they never put anything in the hat.

    “But people that would ask me to sing a blues song would always tip me and maybe give me a beer. They always would do something of that kind. Sometimes I’d make 50 or 60 dollars one Saturday afternoon. Now you know why I’m a blues singer.”

  3. Fannie says:

    Thank you BB, for doing BB, the blues boy from Indianola, Ms. I last saw him in 1996, and have a photo with his signature, and of course, I can’t remember where I stashed it.

    Just a thrill to hear him, and listen to him play his Lucille. Many blues musicians I really tried to see, and did so in place called the Firehouse, in Hermosa Beach. He was right up there with the best (never did see Eric Clapton). For sure to know him is to love him. I am glad you showed the video of him playing in prison, he did many gigs in hell holes all over this country.

    Take it Home

  4. RalphB says:

    Paul Krugman’s wonderful editorial today!

    NYT: Fraternity of Failure

    Jeb Bush wants to stop talking about past controversies. And you can see why. He has a lot to stop talking about. But let’s not honor his wish. You can learn a lot by studying recent history, and you can learn even more by watching how politicians respond to that history.

    The big “Let’s move on” story of the past few days involved Mr. Bush’s response when asked in an interview whether, knowing what he knows now, he would have supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He answered that yes, he would. No W.M.D.? No stability after all the lives and money expended? No problem.

    Then he tried to walk it back. He “interpreted the question wrong,” and isn’t interested in engaging “hypotheticals.” Anyway, “going back in time” is a “disservice” to those who served in the war.

    Take a moment to savor the cowardice and vileness of that last remark. And, no, that’s not hyperbole. Mr. Bush is trying to hide behind the troops, pretending that any criticism of political leaders — especially, of course, his brother, the commander in chief — is an attack on the courage and patriotism of those who paid the price for their superiors’ mistakes. That’s sinking very low, and it tells us a lot more about the candidate’s character than any number of up-close-and-personal interviews.

    It gets better from there.

    • Beata says:

      Jeb-Boy continues to be successful in his campaign to disprove the popular myth that he is the “smartest son” of George Herbert Walker Bush. Go, Jeb, go.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hard to believe, but I think Jeb is a worse candidate than Rick Perry.

        • RalphB says:

          That’s looking more likely every day. His ‘apple watch is a doctor’ bit from yesterday is really cringe-worthy.

    • janicen says:

      Seriously, when I read that “disservice to those who served” line I thought of “Support the troops! Support the troops! If you disagree with that idiot of a president who dragged us into war with Iraq, you don’t support the troops!” Krugman nailed it with this one.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The jury gave Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the death penalty. That means years, maybe decades of appeals. Disgusting. Only 15% of MA residents favored this.


    • janicen says:

      I’m not surprised by this decision by the jury. I’m sure the jurors must have thought, if not for this crime, why do we have a death penalty? I don’t agree with the sentiment, but I expected this reaction.

    • Fannie says:

      I was a bit surprised by the federal court on this one. It’s not going to be over for a long long time.

    • NW Luna says:

      Killing someone is wrong….so we kill as punishment for killing? Death penalties don’t bring anyone back to life.

      • RalphB says:

        That’s true but, at least in this case, we don’t have to worry about executing an innocent person for a change. Not that I approve of the death penalty anyway.

        • bostonboomer says:

          The problem is that the victims will have to keep dealing with his appeals for decades. Going to that horrible prison in CO would be a much worse punishment than death.

    • RalphB says:

      Makes a lot of sense. Acquisition of property screwed up all of society,

    • bostonboomer says:

      That isn’t news. That has been known forever. Hunter gatherers also carry their children constantly, co-sleep with them, and let them nurse at will. Just about everything modern American parents do is bad for kids’ development. Kids who are carried and picked up whenever they cry don’t need stuffed animals for comfort–not that they are a bad thing, but…. We isolate our kids in separate rooms as infants. All this leads to a lot of insecure attachment in kids.

      • janicen says:

        That’s interesting. Not that I’m so smart, but I never left my daughter to cry herself to sleep. If she was crying, I figured she needed something; food, diaper change, cuddling, something. And the baby books said it was perfectly normal for your child to have a “lovey”. A blanket or stuffed animal or something she was attached to and our daughter never had one. We always wondered why.

        • bostonboomer says:

          When we were kids, the doctors told parents to let infants cry for awhile before picking them up, but my mom said she never could stand to do it. She always picked us up.

          • janicen says:

            Your mom and I stumbled into the right thing to do and the end result proves it. We both raised strong, determined, intelligent daughters. It just seemed like common sense to me.