Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farewell to the King of the Blues

On May 14th, the world lost one great artist, B.B. King, at the age of 89. Born Riley B. King and raised in Mississippi, he was American Hall of Fame blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and is regarded as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, inspiring countless other electric blues and blues rock guitarists. With his first recordings in 1949, King went on to have a successful career, performing in countless concerts with his famous guitar, Lucille. 1956 became a record-breaking year, with 342 concerts booked and three recording sessions.

From the late '60s, new manager Sid Seidenberg pushed King into a different type of venue as blues-rock performers like Eric Clapton and Paul Butterfield were popularizing an appreciation of blues music among white audiences. King gained further visibility among rock audiences as an opening act on the Rolling Stones' 1969 American Tour. He won a 1970 Grammy Award for the song "The Thrill Is Gone," which became a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. It also gained the number 183 spot in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014. Until his death in 2015, he maintained a highly visible and active career, appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year.
Originally a Roy Hawkins' song from 1951, here's B.B. King's hit version of "The Thrill Is Gone," released in December 1969 and performed live on the Ed Sullivan Show in '70.

 Another classic King tune, "Sweet Little Angel" was a #8 hit on the Billboard R&B chart in 1956, and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."

RIP to the King of the Blues. For your numerous fans, the thrill will never be gone as long as your music lives on.

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