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White House leads BB King tributes

Published 15/05/2015

BB King has died aged 89
BB King has died aged 89
Blues legend B.B. King performs February 17, 2002 at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Scott Harrison/Getty Images)
BB King during his first performance at the Marciac Jazz festival, southwestern France, in 1997.
US blues musician BB King who has died in Las Vegas aged 89
BB King performs during a concert at the bullring of Valencia in 2004

Legendary blues guitarist BB King has been remembered by a host of musicians and two US presidents after his death aged 89.

King's lawyer Brent Bryson said the musician, who suffered from diabetes, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas on May 14, where he had been receiving hospice care.

Barack Obama said "t he blues has lost its king and America has lost a legend".

Recalling the time he performed an impromptu duet with the star, he said: " No one worked harder than BB. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues. Three years ago, Michelle and I hosted a blues concert at the White House.

"I hadn't expected that I'd be talked into singing a few lines of Sweet Home Chicago with BB by the end of the night, but that was the kind of effect his music had, and still does. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn't do - but will always be glad you did. BB may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever.

"And there's going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight."

A statement from former president Bill Clinton said he was "mourning the loss" of the star.

He said: " He was a brilliant blues guitarist and a kind, good man. I will always be grateful that twice I had the chance to play with him, and that he received the Kennedy Centre Honour when I was president. While an American legend has gone to his greater reward, the thrill of his gifts to us will never be gone. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and his legions of friends and fans."

Tributes to the guitarists have also come from fellow musicians Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr.

Clapton posted a video tribute on Facebook to the man he called a "dear friend".

He said: "I want to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years and the friendship we enjoyed.

"There is not a lot left to say because this music is almost a thing of the past now and there are not many left who play it in the pure way that BB did. He was a beacon for all of us who love this kind of music and I thank him from the bottom of my heart."

King's electric blues s tyle was an inspiration to scores of musicians and he mentored stars including Clapton as well as collaborating with U2 on the 1989 track When Love Comes To Town.

Ringo Starr tweeted: "God bless BB King, peace and love to his family, Ringo and Barbara."

Rapper Snoop Dogg posted a photo of King holding his trademark Gibson guitar, which he always named Lucille, on his Instagram page.

Actor Hugh Laurie, who himself released blues albums in 2011 and 2013, tweeted: "Oh God. BB King. Let the sad times roll."

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora wrote: "My friend and legend BB King passed. I'm so so sad. He was so great to me. We've lost the King. My love and prayers to his family."

Lenny Kravitz tweeted: "BB, anyone could play a thousand notes and never say what you said in one. RIP BB King," while Bryan Adams added similar sentiments: "RIP BB King, one of the best blues guitarists ever, maybe the best. He could do more on one note than anyone."

Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler said: " BB King was an enormous influence on me and for countless others. I first heard him on the record Live At The Regal at 15, and was struck by the sound and the emotion in his playing and singing and the effect of both on the audience.

"It was an honour to be a part of BB King and Friends, his 80th birthday recording of duets. BB will always be in my heart."

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