Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015) known professionally as B.B. King, was a renowned American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He revolutionized blues guitar playing with his sophisticated style of soloing, characterized by fluid string bending, shimmering vibrato, and staccato picking, which went on to influence numerous blues electric guitar players.

Early Life

B.B. King was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation called Bear Creek in Leflore County, near Itta Bena, Mississippi. He was the son of sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King. At the tender age of four, King’s mother left his father for another man, leading him to be raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, initially in Kilmichael, Mississippi, and later in Lexington. During his teenage years, he relocated to Indianola, a place he fondly considered his hometown, where he found work at a cotton gin. King’s life took a turn when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was eventually released from service after being deemed “essential to the war economy” based on his expertise as a tractor driver.

B.B. King’s Blues Club

In 1991, John Elkington, a developer on Beale Street in Memphis, invited B.B. King to open the original B.B. King’s Blues Club. This marked the beginning of a series of successful clubs bearing his name. In 1994, a second club was launched at Universal Citywalk in Los Angeles. Additionally, a third club was established in New York City’s Times Square in June 2000. However, the New York City club closed its doors on April 29, 2018. The management has been actively seeking a new location for a B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City. These clubs served as iconic venues where blues enthusiasts could enjoy live music and celebrate the legacy of B.B. King.

On 16 September 2019, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate B.B. King’s 94th Birthday.

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