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BB King: 8 facts about the blues guitar legend

By Helen Nianias

Published 15/05/2015

Blues legend B.B. King performs February 17, 2002 at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Scott Harrison/Getty Images)
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

BB King sadly passed away after battling diabetes-related illness.

Ranked the third-greatest guitarist of all time, King has been described by critics as "synonymous with the blues".

From how he learned guitar and the tragedies he overcame, to the extent of his staggering success, here's what you need to know.


As a disc jockey on a Memphis, Tennessee, radio station, Riley B. King became known as "The Beale Street Blues Boy," which was shortened to "Blues Boy" and eventually to "B.B."


King was playing a dance in Twist, Arkansas, when two men began fighting over a woman and accidentally set the dance hall ablaze. King had to dash back in to save his guitar, which he began calling Lucille, the name of the woman who inspired the fight.


King's primary guitar teacher was his cousin, bluesman Bukka White.


In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time ranked King as No. 3, behind only Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman.


In 1956 King and his band performed 342 one-night stands.


King greatly expanded his fan base to jazz, folk and rock audiences in 1967, playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Newport Folk Festival and the Fillmore West in San Francisco.


King's 10,000th show came on April 17, 2006, at his namesake nightclub in New York. He performed despite having buried his son, who died of cancer, the day before.


King appeared on the television shows Sanford and Son, The Young and the Restless, The Cosby Show, Married ... With Children, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sesame Street.

Source: Independent

Read more:

Blues hero BB King dies aged 89  

Tributes flood in for BB King  

Independent News Service

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