Riley B. King also known as B.B. King
- Sweet Sixteen
- Live at the Apollo
- They Call Me Mr. Cleanhead
- How Blue Can You Get
- Nobody Loves Me But My Mother
- The Thrill Is Gone Musical Works
- Back In The Alley… (1973)
- Best Of B.B. King (1994)
- Best Of B. B. King (1973)
- Best Of B. B. King (1973)
- Blues ‘N’ Jazz (1983)
- Blues Is King (1967)
- Blues Summit (1993)
- Catfish Blues (1995)
- Classics (1996)
- Collection (1997)
- Completely Well (1998)
- Completely Well (Gold Disc) (1969)
- Completely Well (1969)
- Deuces Wild (1997)
- Do The Boogie! B.B. King’s… (1988)
- The Electric B.B. King – His Best (1968)
- Everyday I Sing The Blues (1998)
- The Fabulous B.B. King (1991)
- Got My Mojo Working (1989)
- Great Moments With B.B. King (1968)
- Guess Who (1972)
- Heart & Soul: A Collection Of Blues Ballads (1995)
- His Best-Electric B.B. King (1998)
- How Blue Can You Get (1997)
- How Blue Can You Get?…1964 To 1994 (1996)
- B.B. King In London (1971)
- Indianola Mississippi Seeds (1970)
- Kansas City 1972
- King Of The Blues [Box] (1992)
- King Of The Blues: 1989 (1989)
- Live And Well (1969)
- Now Appearing At Ole Miss (1980)
- Live At San Quentin (1990)
- Live At The Apollo (1991)
- Live At The Regal (1997)
- Live At The Regal (1964)
- Live In Cook County Jail (1998)
- Live In Cook County Jail (1971)
- Love Me Tender (1982)
- Lucille (Gold Disc) (1968)
- Lucille Talks Back (1975)
- Midnight Believer (1978)
- My Sweet Little Angel (1993)
- Paying The Cost To Be The Boss
- Revue Collection (1996)
- Singin’ The Blues/The Blues (1993)
- Six Silver Strings (1985)
- Spotlight On Lucille (1986)
- Swing Low Sweet Chariot 1997)
- Take It Home (1979)
- There Is Always One More Time (1991)
- There Must Be A Better World (1998)
- Treasures From The Vault (1996)
- Best Of B. B. King, Vol. 1 (Flair) (1986)
- Vol. 1-Very Best (1997)
- Why I Sing Blues (1998)
- Why I Sing The Blues (1994)
- Greatest Hits-1951-1960 England
By Aninda Sarkar (SHS)
For forty years there has been only one “King of the Blues,” and his name is Riley B. King, widely known as B. B. King. Since B. B. started recording in the late 1940’s, he has released over fifty albums. Many of these albums are considered as blues classics. Among these are two number one R&B hits in 1951 “Three O’clock Blues,” and in 1952 “You don’t know Me,” four number two R&B hits, and numerous other major hits. He has been a popular singer for over four decades, yet still he produces more albums than any other blues singer. Among all his hits “The Thrill Is Gone” is one of his most popular crossover hits ( This House on Fire; B.B. King’s Worldblues Site).
Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 to Albert and Nora Ella King on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi. King was musically influenced by a preacher at the Holiness Church in Carmichael named Archie Fair. He taught King how to play guitar and sing early in life. In 1947, with his guitar and $2.50, he hitchhiked north to Memphis, Tennessee, to follow his musical career. Memphis was the city where almost every important musician of the South gravitated, and it was a large competitive musical community where almost all black musical styles were heard. There B. B. King stayed with his cousin Bukka White. White, who taught B. B. further in the art of the blues, was one of the most renowned rural blues performers of his time (B. B. King’s Worldblues) The first big break came for B. B. in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM out of West Memphis. This led to steady performances for B. B. About the same time he became a full-time disc jockey. One-day King was playing guitar in a small dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. In the course of the evening, two men got into a fight over a woman who today is known only as Lucille. Words and threats soon developed into punches, and as these two men were fighting, one knocked a kerosene lamp down, and the place caught on fire. Almost everyone escaped the fire, but when B. B. realized he had left his guitar inside he went back to get it, and he barely escaped the fire. Later when he realized the incident was caused by the lady named Lucille, he named his guitar “Lucille” (The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music).
Not long after this incident, King left radio behind, and started his own band. He recorded his first number one hit in 1951, “Three O’clock Blues,” and he began touring nationally. And he has never stopped– performing an average of 275 concerts an year. In 1956, B. B. and his band played an astonishing 342 one night stands. From the Caitlin’ circuit with its small town cafes, ghetto theaters, country dance hall, and roadside joints to jazz clubs, rock palaces, symphony concert halls, collage concerts, resort hotels and prestigious concert halls nationally and internationally. B. B. has become the most renowned blues musician of the past 40 years (Contemporary Musicians Profiles of the people in Music).
B. B. has a mixed style combining blues, jazz, swing, and mainstream pop, which become a unique sound. B. B. also has developed one of the most readily- identified guitar styles. He has combined his vocal talent around it to produce countless magnificent songs (B. B. King Biography).
During the 70’s, B. B. toured Ghana, Lagos, Chad, and Liberia under the United States State Department. He also performed lots of prestigious jazz festivals, and events. . In 1989, King toured Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, West Germany, Holland, and Ireland for three months as a special guest of U2. King headlined the Blues Music Festival of America Amphitheaters with three support acts (B.B. King’s Worldblues Site).
Over the years, B. B. has become one of the most celebrated American Musicians in this world. B. B. King’s achievements are enormous, and to date he has received seven Grammy Awards. He also received numerous awards for achievements in various part of music. Many different prestigious colleges including Yale, Berkeley, and Rhodes College of Memphis gave B. B. King an honorary doctorate ( B. B. King: King of the Blues).
B. B. King is a songwriter, bar owner, performer, legend, and the undisputed “King of the Blues.” He is a great person by any standards. He is a living legends in our time. His effect on music will always be remembered, and everyone will cherish his songs generations to come (The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music).
B.B. King: A Biography
By Nikki Goliday (SHS)
In a small sharecropper’s cabin near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi (or Indianola some sources say), on September 16,1925, Riley B. King was born in the Delta. The hardworking sharecropping parents, Albert and Nora Ella King, had lived in Mississippi all their lives. The baby boy was named after his uncle, who was Albert King’s only living relative. He never knew the uncle for whom he was named.
His mother left his father for another man when young Riley was only four years old. She moved back into the hills east of the Delta and sent Riley to live in Kilmicheal with his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr. His father did not interfere and soon lost touch with his ex-wife and son. Riley lived periodically with his mother and two subsequent step-fathers, but most of the time he lived with his grandmother, who was a sharecropper.
Riley’s mother and grandmother were both very religious. He attended church in Kilmicheal, and it was at church where young Riley had his first musical influences. The preacher, Archie Fair, was an important musical inspiration to him. The preacher led the congregation on Sunday by playing the guitar. Riley became fascinated with the guitar, so the preacher taught him how to play the E, A, and B chords.
Riley’s mother passed away in the summer of 1935. Riley’s father, who was concerned about his welfare, told Riley he could live with him and his wife in Lexington, Mississippi. Riley refused because he wanted to remain in school and sing with his family gospel group. His grandmother, Elnora Farr, died on January 15,1940. Although he still had relatives in the area, they had no room for him. He continued to lived in the cabin and farm one acre of the Henderson’s land to raise a cotton crop. He barely made enough to survive and had to move to Lexington in the fall of 1940. He only stayed with his father for two years and became homesick for the Kilmicheal area.
In 1942, when he was 16, he moved back to Kilmicheal to attend Elkhorn School and continue singing with his gospel group. The Flake Cartledge family, white cash tenants for Edwayne Henderson, took him in, and he worked to earn his keep. The Cartledges were very kind to him. In fact, they loaned him $2.50 to buy his first guitar from Denzil Tidwell. In 1942, he moved to the Delta to look for better work. He thought about forming a better singing group with his cousin, Brikett. In the spring of 1943, Brikett borrowed a car and moved Riley back to Indianola, Mississippi, where he found work on the Johnson Barrett plantation. He was a sharecropper and a tractor driver in which $1.00 per day was his pay. In a few months, he had a skilled job as a tractor driver, a new singing group, and a girlfriend. He had to register in 1944 for the military and was found physically fit for the service. Johnson Barrett did not want to lose a skilled tractor driver and applied to the draft board on Riley’s behalf for an occupational deferment. Barrett told Riley that getting married would also improve his chance of not going. Therefore, on November 11,1944, he married his first wife Martha Denton and shortly afterward he received his deferment.
Riley’s singing group, St. John’s Gospel Singers, consisted of a five man chorus, including Riley, cousin Brikett, and the leader, John Matthews. Riley played his guitar when they sang, mostly at churches. Occasionally, they would give live performances on radio station WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi. He would also play blues on the street corners of Indianola on Saturday nights. He was able to double or triple his daily wages by playing the blues in other Delta towns. His money and exposure to other Delta bluesmen turned his interest away from gospel and spirituals.
After he was released from the selective service, he tried to convince the singing group to leave Indianola in search of fame and fortune. He realized that if he was going to start a career in music, he would have to go alone. The final decision came one night in May of 1946, after he returned from the field with the tractor. Riley left town with his guitar and $2.50 in his pocket. He was going to Memphis on highway 49 looking for his cousin Bukka White. When he first took the job at the radio station, he was billed as “Riley King, the Blues Boy from Beale Street.” The name later was shortened to “The Blues Boy” and then simply to “B.B.”.
He started his career as a professional musician on the streets of Memphis during the 1940’s. On corners for tips, he played gospel and blues. “When I used to sit on the street corners and play gospel songs, people would come by and try to cheer me up. They would also pat me on the head and say ,’son that was great. You keep it up, you’re gonna be great someday. But the blues fans would do it differently. You do good, they would all the time give you money,” explains King.
He married his second wife, Sue Hall, on June 4,1958. He met her at Club Ebony in Indianola, where her mother was the manager. She was fifteen years younger than B.B. and traveled with him for six consecutive months until they bought a house in Los Angeles. Sue began making a home there, but B.B. was rarely in town. B.B. and Sue King were divorced in 1966, which he responded to by recording his biggest hit song, “The Thrill Is Gone.”
B.B. Kings first national tour was at Howard Theater in Washington, DC, in 1952. He was performing with the Tiny Bradshaw band and was on his way to becoming one of the greatest in the business. The tour continued for six months; and over the next eighteen months, B.B. performed on the road with layovers in Memphis. He also continued to work for radio station WDIA. Even though B.B. was managed by Robert Henry, Henry was not well equipped to manage a nationwide career. In 1953, his contract with Henry was broken, and B.B. signed with a new manager from Texas, Marurice Merrit.
After mainstream America had finally heard of B.B. King, two new events occurred in his career ,when all the world seemed ready for him– a hit record and a new manager. The Roy Howkins song, “The Thrill Is Gone,” was recorded. In 1969, B.B. made his first network TV appearance on the “Tonight Show,” a lucky break provided by Flip Wilson, who had been filling in for Johnny Carson. The most symbolic was his appearance on Ed Sullivan show in 1971 because playing on the show was a sign that a new performer had arrived and was accepted by the American public.
B.B.’s new manager was Sidney A. Seidenberg, a New York show business accountant, who had been B.B.’s book keeper until 1968. Seidenberg was able to re-negotiate contracts and get major bookings for B.B. that seemed to be impossible with other managers. The partnership with Sid was dissolved in 1973, due to his feeling of neglect by Sid for Gladys Knight and the Pips. B.B. then became his own manager and soon realized that he needed Sid . Seidenberg also needed B.B. because he lost Gladys. So, B.B. and Sid were back together in 1977 and are still together today.
B.B. plays an electric guitar named Lucille ever since the 1950’s. This became her name because one night when two men where fighting over a woman named Lucille a fire was accidentally started in the hall where King was performing. It was a memorable occasion for him, since he almost lost his life when he went back into the building to rescue his guitar.
Today B.B. King is hailed as the world’s greatest blues man. With more than fifty albums to his credit, he has enthusiastic fans following him. Most of King’s songs are about hard times or unsatisfactory relationships with women. B.B. King has been awarded with several honors outside his recordings and performances. At 74 years of age, King remains enthusiastic about the blues. He does about 300 concerts annually. His first studio album was released last year on top of two back to back live LPs. Few musicians have attained the success to drive themselves as hard as King did. He has a unique style of blues which has been often imitated, but never duplicated. King admits that he’s an original: “There’s a whole lot of things I don’t do as well as other people, but I can do and do very well being B.B.King.
King writes music. He lyrically strives for success that combines honesty with a bit of humor. He says that, ” the blues of 1992 has changed from music played as a boy back on the cotton plantation.” He celebrated his 75th birthday with two new MCA releases: the all-star home video, Blues Summit Concert, and the brand-new interactive CD- ROM, On the Road With B.B. King. B.B. King turns 77 years old in 2002
King regularly returns to Mississippi for concerts, workshops, and festivals. He has seen the transformation of the blues from African American folk song to popular art accepted across the globe.
- 1925– Riley B. King was born on September 16, on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
- 1929 – Moved to Kilmichael, MS
- 1935 – B.B. King’s mother died in the summer
- 1940 – B.B. King’s grandmother died on January 15
- 1943 – Moved to Indianola in the spring
- 1947– with his guitar and $2.50, Riley King hitchhiked north to Memphis, Tennessee, to pursue his musical career.
- 1948– B. B. King performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM out of West Memphis. (That was his first big break)
- 1949– Made his first recording for Bullet Records.
- 1950– B. B. King decided to name his guitars Lucille.
- 1951– King has released his first major hit “Three O’clock Blues.”
- 1952– “You don’t know me” was released by King. King’s first marriage ended in divorce.
- 1953– “Please love me” was released by King.
- 1956– King and his band played an astonishing 342 one night stands.
- 1958 – Married Sue Hall on June 4
- 1960– “Sweet Sixteen, Part I” was released by King.
- 1964 – Recorded “Live at the Regal”
- 1966– “Don’t Answer The Door, Part I.” was released by B. B. King.
– Divorced Sue Hall
- 1967– B.B. performed at the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival, which was later aired over PBS TV.
- 1968– B.B. played at the Newport Folk Festival.
- 1969– B.B. was chosen by the Rolling Stones to open eighteen American concerts for them.
- 1970– “The Thrill Is Gone,” went to #15 pop. It is B. B.’s most popular crossover hit. B.B. premiered in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace and at the Royal Box in the American Hotel in New York City as well as on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
– Received first Grammy Award for best vocal performance, male
- 1973– Received honorary doctorate from Tougaloo Collage.
- 1977– Received honorary doctorate from Yale University.
- 1982– Received honorary doctorate from Berkeley Collage of Music.
- 1984 – Inducted into Blues hall of Fame
- 1987 – Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- 1989– B. B. toured Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, West Germany, Holland, and Ireland.
- 1990– PBS featured television show about B. B. King. Received the songwriter’s Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
- 1991 Received the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievements Award.
Received the National Heritage Fellowship.
- 1991 – Opened BB King Blues Club on Beale Street in Memphis
- 1993 Received Grammy for best Traditional Blues Recording.
- 1994 Opened a blues club in Los Angeles
- 1995 Received the Kennedy Center Honors.
- 1998 – Lifetime Achievement Award at Mobo Awards
- 1999– In May, B.B. King was honored with Entertainer of the Year and Contemporary Blues Album of the Year Award for Blues On The Bayou at the W.C. Handy Awards (presented by the Blues Foundation).
- 2000–Blues legend and MCA Records artist B.B. King turns 70 years old this year, and King is celebrating this milestone in style, with two new MCA releases: the all-star home video, Blues Summit Concert, and the brand-new interactive CD-ROM, On the Road With B.B. King
- 2000 – Opened a blues club in Times Square
- 2006–Received Presidential Medal of Freedom
- May 14, 2015 – B B King died in his sleep
- 2017 – Inducted in to the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience Hall of Fame
- Grammy Awards for B.B. King
- The Official BB King Website
- The BB King Museum
- BB King Mississippi Blues Marker
- Kereker, Jim & O’Neill.”B.B. King: Accomplishments.” Available http://prairie.lakes.com/~jkerekeslaccomp.html. January 3, 1997.
- Kereker,Jim & O’Neill, Dennis. “B.B. King: In The Beginning.” Available http://prairie.lakes.com/~jkerekes/begin.html. January 3, 1997.
- Kereker, Jim & O’Neill, Dennis. “B.B. King: Rise To Stardom.” Available http://prairie.lakes.com/~jkerekes/star.html. January 3, 1997.
- Nagel, Carol Dekane. “B.B. King.” African American Biography (volume 3, K-R). 1994 .
- Rotenstein, David S.. “B.B. King (born Riley King).” Available http://www.island.net/~blues/bb.html. January 3, 1997.
- Awmiller, Craig, ed. This House on Fire. New York: Grolier Publishing, 1996.
- “B.B. King Biography.” Online. Internet. 3 May 1998. http://www.island.net/~blues/bb.html
- “B.B. King’s Worldblues Site.” Online. Internet. 23 April 1998. http://www.worldblues.com/bbking/default.asp
- “B.B. King: King of the Blues.” Online. Internet. 23 April 1998. http://bbking.mca.com/
- “B.B. King: The King of the Blues.” Online. Internet. 23 April 1998. http://prairie.lakes.com/~jkerekes/
- “Blues Legends: B.B. King.” Online. Internet. 3 May 1998. http://www.teleport.com/~boydroid/blues/bbking.htm
- “MCA Records: B.B. King.” Online. Internet. 3 May 1998. http://www.mca.com/mca_records/library/copy/bbking.copy.html
- La Blanc, Michael L, ed. Contemporary Musicians Profiles of the people in Music. Volume 1. Michigan: Gale Research Inc., 1989.
- Larkin, Colin, ed. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Volume 1. New York: Guinness Publishing, 1995.
- “Thrill Is Not Gone.” Online. Internet. 3 May 1998. http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/1242/index.htm
- Henry, Robert. The Once and Future King. New York: Double Day & Company, Inc., 1980.
- LaBlanc, Michael L. Contemporary Musicians. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1993. 1:28. Obrecht, Jas. Mississippi State University Online Catalog and Other Electronic Services.
- Sawyer, Charles. The Arrival of B.B. King. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980.
- Sawyer, Charles. Analysis of B.B. King’s guitar Solo. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980