September 16, 1925:
On this day one of the most widely respected and best blues musician of all time was born. Commonly referred to as the “King of the Blues,” he is considered to be among the genre’s most groundbreaking and influential artists.
Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known professionally as B.B. King, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists.
King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and is considered one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert and Freddie King). King performed tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing on average at more than 200 concerts per year into his 70s. In 1956 alone, he appeared at 342 shows.
King was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and later worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi. He was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints and local radio. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, and as his fame grew, toured the world extensively. King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14, 2015.
B.B released his first album, Singing the Blues back in 1956. He would go on to record 43 studio albums, 16 live albums, and release 138 singles. You can listen to what Rollingstone considers his top 10 songs here.
The thrill is gone, but most definitely not forgotten. Long live the King.