BB King Legendary ‘King of Blues’ who electrified on stage worldwide including China, dies at 89

Legendary ‘King of Blues’ BB King, who electrified on stage worldwide including China, dies at 89
To Hong Kong and China fans, he is best remembered for his 1994 Asian concert tour

Agence France-Presse

BB King1

In this 2008 file photo, musician BB King performs at the opening night of the 87th season of the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Photo: AP
BB King, who became the face of the American blues worldwide and an inspiration for generations of rock guitarists, has passed away. He was 89.

King – almost as well known as his “woman”, the Gibson ES-355 guitar he named Lucilledied in Las Vegas, which was the blues legend’s primary residence amid years of incessant travel, his daughter said. King kept up a gruelling touring schedule even in his 80s, despite living with Type II diabetes for more than two decades.

To Hong Kong fans, King may be best remembered for his live concert in 1994. He came after he was flown in to Beijing to officially open the city’s Hard Rock Café.

While in the Chinese capital, King was photographed on the Great Wall with Lucille. The Asian tour also saw him play in Taipei, Singapore, Japan and Australia.

BB King2
US blues music guitarist B.B. King appears during a tour at the Great Wall in 1994, when he performed in the city for the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe. Photo: AFP

“The King of the Blues”, as he was universally known, led a life of non-stop touring, electrifying audiences in some 100 countries with his biting guitar licks and soulful songs of love and angst such as The Thrill is Gone and How Blue Can You Get. King for decades gave upwards of 300 concerts a year, racking up 15 Grammy awards.

But King’s fans noticed last year that some performances were increasingly erratic, and he cancelled remaining dates in October after falling ill at a show in Chicago.

“I have a disease which I believe might be contagious,” he said in an interview in 2007. “It’s called ‘need more.’”

Rising from sharecropper poverty in deep Mississippi, King was a consummate entertainer with a husky baritone who made a successful crossover from traditional African American audiences to rock and pop fans.

Lucille was named after a woman who was the focus of a fight between two men in Arkansas that led to a house being set on fire and King nearly being burned to death as he tried to rescue his instrument.

Through the guitar, he delivered an unmistakable mix of slow but sharp bite and long, moaning bends that influenced other guitar legends such as Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him the third greatest guitar legend after Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman and one ahead of Clapton. But his influence probably eclipsed all of theirs.

WATCH: ‘The Thrill is Gone’

Riley B King was born September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi. His father left home when he was five, he was working in the fields at seven, and his mother died when he was nine.

A kindly white plantation owner bought him a red guitar when he was 12, and, as he moved up to driving a tractor on the farm, he spent his spare time singing in local Gospel groups and on street corners for spare change.

Eventually he made his way north to Memphis, Tennessee, a music capital which was to become his longtime base. Blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson put King on his radio show, where he made such an impression the young musician soon got his own programme, Sepia Swing Club.

On the radio he took the nickname Beal Street Blues Boy, then shortened it to Blues Boy King, and then B.B. King.

In 1949 he made his first six singles, and two years later hit paydirt with Three O’Clock Blues. It held the number 1 slot on the national rhythm and blues charts for 15 weeks.

He told interviewers he had always wanted to sing Gospel music, but it was blues that brought in money.

WATCH: ‘Three O’Clock Blues’

He developed his distinct style in the 1950s as he toured incessantly with his band. He never took up the slide guitar like most Delta bluesmen, but substituted with a vibrato from his left hand on the neck that rounded out his unique sound.

“By bending the strings, by trilling my hand – and I have big, fat hands – I could achieve something that approximated a vocal vibrato,” King said in his 1996 autobiography.

It made King’s blues, and for many, it became the essential sound of all blues.

By the early 1960s, however, King’s music lost its popularity with the rise of more slick R&B styles. But within a few years he would have a new audience: young, white and hip.

In 1968, British guitar star Clapton told Rolling Stone: “I still don’t think there is a better blues guitarist in the world than BB King.”

In 1969 the Rolling Stones invited King to open 18 US concerts, and his new career was launched.

WATCH: ‘Riding With the King’ with Eric Clapton

In 1970 he had his biggest-ever hit, the slow-moving, minor-key The Thrill is Gone, which took him for the first time onto the well-monied pop charts. It became one of his two signature songs.

The other was the show-stopping How Blue Can You Get.

King later added the title “Ambassador for the Blues”, as the US government sent him around the world for concerts, including a triumphant 1979 tour of Russia.

His family life, as biographer Charles Sawyer wrote, was “never normal by ordinary standards”. He told people that when his regular dates with Lucille came between him and a woman, the guitar always won.

He was married and divorced twice, and liked to say he had 15 children by15 women, but was very closed-mouth about any details. People magazine reported he had eight children. At least two of his children worked with his band, one as a backup singer.

Patty King, considered the youngest of his daughters, took charge of his care at the end of his life and reportedly fought with King’s longtime manager.

King made his 42nd and last studio album in 2008, One Kind Favour, that also brought him his final Grammy.

He recorded the Grammy winning Riding With the King with Clapton in 2000: the cover showed Clapton in the front seat of an open limousine chauffeuring a regal King together with Lucille in the back.
PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 May, 2015, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 May, 2015, 4:26pm
#BBKing   #RidingWiththeKing  #GibsonES355   #BBKingLucille   #FamousCelebritesWitDiabetes  #GrammyWinner   #GuitarLegends

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s