B. B. King, whose world-weary voice and wailing guitar lifted him from the cotton fields of Mississippi to a global stage and the apex of American blues, died on Thursday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 89.
John Fudenberg, the coroner of Clark County, Nev., said the cause was a series of small strokes attributable to Type 2 diabetes, The Associated Press reported. Mr. King, who was in hospice care, had been in poor health but had continued to perform until October, when he canceled a tour, citing dehydration and exhaustion stemming from the diabetes.
Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.
“I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions,” Mr. King said in his autobiography, “Blues All Around Me” (1996), written with David Ritz.
In performances, his singing and his solos flowed into each other as he wrung notes from the neck of his guitar, vibrating his hand as if it were wounded, his face a mask of suffering. Many of the songs he sang — like his biggest hit, “The Thrill Is Gone” (“I’ll still live on/But so lonely I’ll be”) — were poems of pain and perseverance.
The music historian Peter Guralnick once noted that Mr. King helped expand the audience for the blues through “the urbanity of his playing, the absorption of a multiplicity of influences, not simply from the blues, along with a graciousness of manner and willingness to adapt to new audiences and give them something they were able to respond to.”
B. B. stood for Blues Boy, a name he took with his first taste of fame in the 1940s. His peers were bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, whose nicknames fit their hard-bitten lives. But he was born a King, albeit in a shack surrounded by dirt-poor sharecroppers and wealthy landowners.
Mr. King went out on the road and never came back after one of his first recordings reached the top of the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1951. He began in juke joints, country dance halls and ghetto nightclubs, playing 342 one-night stands in 1956 and 200 to 300 shows a year for a half-century thereafter, rising to concert halls, casino main stages and international acclaim.
He was embraced by rock ’n’ roll fans of the 1960s and ’70s, who remained loyal as they grew older together. His playing influenced many of the most successful rock guitarists of the era, including Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.
Mr. King considered a 1968 performance at the Fillmore West, the San Francisco rock palace, to have been the moment of his commercial breakthrough, he told a public-television interviewer in 2003. A few years earlier, he recalled, an M.C. in an elegant Chicago club had introduced him thus: “O.K., folks, time to pull out your chitlin’s and your collard greens, your pigs’ feet and your watermelons, because here is B. B. King.” It had infuriated him.
When he saw “longhaired white people” lining up outside the Fillmore, he said, he told his road manager, “I think they booked us in the wrong place.” Then the promoter Bill Graham introduced him to the sold-out crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King.”
“Everybody stood up, and I cried,” Mr. King said. “That was the beginning of it.”
By his 80th birthday he was a millionaire many times over. He owned a mansion in Las Vegas, a closet full of embroidered tuxedos and smoking jackets, a chain of nightclubs bearing his name (including a popular room on West 42nd Street in Manhattan) and the personal and professional satisfaction of having endured.
Through it all he remained with the great love of his life, his guitar. He told the tale a thousand times: He was playing a dance hall in Twist, Ark., in the early 1950s when two men got into a fight and knocked over a kerosene stove. Mr. King fled the fire — and then remembered his $30 guitar. He ran into the burning building to rescue it.
He learned thereafter that the fight had been about a woman named Lucille. For the rest of his life, Mr. King addressed his guitars — big Gibsons, curved like a woman’s hips — as Lucille.
He married twice, unsuccessfully, and was legally single from 1966 onward; by his own account he fathered 15 children with 15 women. But a Lucille was always at his side.
Riley B. King (the middle initial apparently did not stand for anything) was born on Sept. 16, 1925, to Albert and Nora Ella King, sharecroppers in Berclair, Miss., a hamlet outside the small town of Itta Bena in the Mississippi Delta. His memories of the Depression included the sound of sanctified gospel music, the scratch of 78 r.p.m. blues records, the sweat of dawn-to-dusk work and the sight of a black man lynched by a white mob.
By early 1940 Mr. King’s mother was dead and his father was gone. He was 14 and on his own, “sharecropping an acre of cotton, living on a borrowed allowance of $2.50 a month,” wrote Dick Waterman, a blues scholar. “When the crop was harvested, Riley ended his first year of independence owing his landlord $7.54.”
In November 1941 came a revelation: “King Biscuit Time” went on the air, broadcasting on KFFA, a radio station in Helena, Ark. It was the first radio show to feature the Mississippi Delta blues, and young Riley King heard it on his lunch break at the plantation. A largely self-taught guitarist, he now knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a musician on the air.
The King Biscuit show featured Rice Miller, a primeval bluesman and one of two performers who worked under the name Sonny Boy Williamson. After serving in the Army and marrying his first wife, Martha Denton, Mr. King, then 22, went to seek him out in Memphis, looking for work. Memphis and its musical hub, Beale Street, lay 130 miles north of his birthplace, and it looked like a world capital to him.
Mr. Miller had two performances booked that night, one in Memphis and one in Mississippi. He handed the lower-paying nightclub job to Mr. King. It paid $12.50.
Mr. King was making about $5 a day on the plantation. He never returned to his tractor.
He was a hit, and quickly became a popular disc jockey playing the blues on a Memphis radio station, WDIA. “Before Memphis,” he wrote in his autobiography, “I never even owned a record player. Now I was sitting in a room with a thousand records and the ability to play them whenever I wanted. I was the kid in the candy store, able to eat it all. I gorged myself.”
Memphis had heard five decades of the blues: country sounds from the Delta, barrelhouse boogie-woogie, jumps and shuffles and gospel shouts. Mr. King made it all his own. From records he absorbed the big-band sounds of Count Basie, the rollicking jump blues of Louis Jordan, the electric-guitar styles of the jazzman Charlie Christian and the bluesman T-Bone Walker.
On the air in Memphis, Mr. King was nicknamed the Beale Street Blues Boy. That became Blues Boy, which became B. B. In December 1951, two years after arriving in Memphis, Mr. King released a single, “Three O’Clock Blues,” which reached No. 1 on the rhythm-and-blues charts and stayed there for 15 weeks.
He began a tour of the biggest stages a bluesman could play: the Apollo Theater in Harlem, the Howard Theater in Washington, the Royal Theater in Baltimore. By the time his wife divorced him after eight years, he was playing 275 one-night stands a year on the so-called chitlin’ circuit.
There were hard times when the blues fell out of fashion with young black audiences in the early 1960s. Mr. King never forgot being booed at the Royal by teenagers who cheered the sweeter sounds of Sam Cooke.
“They didn’t know about the blues,” he said 40 years after the fact. “They had been taught that the blues was the bottom of the totem pole, done by slaves, and they didn’t want to think along those lines.”
Mr. King’s second marriage, to Sue Hall, also lasted eight years, ending in divorce in 1966. He responded in 1969 with his best-known recording, “The Thrill Is Gone,” a minor-key blues about having loved and lost. It was originally recorded in 1951 by Roy Hawkins, one of its writers, but Mr. King made it his own.
Mr. King is survived by 11 children. Three of them had recently petitioned to take over his affairs, asserting that Mr. King’s manager, Laverne Toney, was taking advantage of him. A Las Vegas judge rejected their petition this month.
The success of “The Thrill Is Gone” coincided with a surge in the popularity of the blues with a young white audience. Mr. King began playing folk festivals and college auditoriums, rock shows and resort clubs, and appearing on “The Tonight Show.”
Though he never had another hit that big, he had more than four decades of the road before him. He eventually played the world — Russia and China as well as Europe and Japan. His schedule around his 81st birthday, in September 2006, included nine cities over two weeks in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Luxembourg.
In addition to winning 15 Grammy Awards (including a lifetime achievement award), having a star on Hollywood Boulevard and being inducted in both the Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame, Mr. King was among the recipients of Kennedy Center Honors in 1995 and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006, awards rarely associated with the blues. In 1999, in a public conversation with William Ferris, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mr. King recounted how he came to sing the blues.
“Growing up on the plantation there in Mississippi, I would work Monday through Saturday noon,” he said. “I’d go to town on Saturday afternoons, sit on the street corner, and I’d sing and play.
“I’d have me a hat or box or something in front of me. People that would request a gospel song would always be very polite to me, and they’d say: ‘Son, you’re mighty good. Keep it up. You’re going to be great one day.’ But they never put anything in the hat.
“But people that would ask me to sing a blues song would always tip me and maybe give me a beer. They always would do something of that kind. Sometimes I’d make 50 or 60 dollars one Saturday afternoon. Now you know why I’m a blues singer.”
Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known by his stage name B.B. King, was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist.
Rolling Stone ranked King number 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. 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 considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of the Blues", and one of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" along with Albertand Freddie. King was known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s. In 1956, he reportedly appeared at 342 shows.
King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 14, 2015.
Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation called Berclair, near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi, the son of sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King. He considered the nearby city of Indianola, Mississippi to be his home. When Riley was 4 years old, his mother left his father for another man, so the boy was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi.
While young, King sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. It seems that at the age of 12 he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother's first cousin (King's grandmother and White's mother were sisters).
In November 1941 "King Biscuit Time" first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. King listened to it while on break at a plantation. A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician.
In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John's Quartet of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi.
In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months. However, King returned to Mississippi shortly afterward, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit, and returned to West Memphis, Arkansas, two years later in 1948. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop an audience. King's appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. The radio spot became so popular that it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club.
Initially he worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", which was later shortened to "Blues Boy" and finally to B.B. It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. King said, "Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have [an electric guitar] myself. 'Had' to have one, short of stealing!"
In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. Before his RPM contract, King had debuted on Bullet Records by issuing the single "Miss Martha King" (1949), which did not chart well. "My very first recordings [in 1949] were for a company out of Nashville called Bullet, the Bullet Record Transcription company," King recalled. "I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin, played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas Branch, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player. The Newborn family were the house band at the famous Plantation Inn in West Memphis."
King assembled his own band; the B.B. King Review, under the leadership of Millard Lee. The band initially consisted of Calvin Owens and Kenneth Sands (trumpet), Lawrence Burdin (alto saxophone), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Floyd Newman (baritone saxophone), Millard Lee (piano), George Joyner (bass) and Earl Forest and Ted Curry (drums). Onzie Horne was a trained musician elicited as an arranger to assist King with his compositions. By his own admission, King could not play chords well and always relied onimprovisation.
King's recording contract was followed by tours across the United States, with performances in major theaters in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and St. Louis, as well as numerous gigs in small clubs and juke joints of the southern United States. During one show in Twist, Arkansas, a brawl broke out between two men and caused a fire. He evacuated along with the rest of the crowd but went back to retrieve his guitar. He said he later found out that the two men, who died in the blaze, were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named the guitar Lucille as a reminder not to fight over women or run into any more burning buildings.
Following his first Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart number one, "3 O'Clock Blues" (February 1952), B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music in the 1950s, amassing an impressive list of hits including "You Know I Love You", "Woke Up This Morning", "Please Love Me", "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer", "Whole Lotta Love", "You Upset Me Baby", "Every Day I Have the Blues", "Sneakin' Around", "Ten Long Years", "Bad Luck", "Sweet Little Angel", "On My Word of Honor", and "Please Accept My Love". This led to a significant increase in his weekly earnings, from about $85 to $2,500, with appearances at major venues such as the Howard Theater in Washington and the Apollo in New York, as well as touring the entire "Chitlin' circuit". 1956 became a record-breaking year, with 342 concerts booked and three recording sessions. That same year he founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. There, among other projects, he produced artists such as Millard Lee and Levi Seabury. In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records, which was later absorbed into MCA Records, and which itself was later absorbed into Geffen Records. In November 1964, King recorded the Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater. King later said that Regal Live "is considered by some the best recording I've ever had . . . that particular day in Chicago everything came together . . ."
From the late 1960s, new manager Sid Seidenberg pushed King into a different type of venue as blues-rock performers like 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"; his version 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. In 2004, he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists "in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music."
From the 1980s to his death in 2015, he maintained a highly visible and active career, appearing on numerous television shows and performing 300 nights a year. In 1988, King reached a new generation of fans with the single "When Love Comes to Town", a collaborative effort between King and the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. In December 1997, he performed in the Vatican's fifth annual Christmas concert and presented his trademark guitar "Lucille" to Pope John Paul II. In 1998, he appeared inThe Blues Brothers 2000, playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley. In 2000, he and Clapton teamed up again to record Riding With the King, which won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
Discussing where he took the Blues, from "dirt floor, smoke in the air" joints to grand concert halls, King said the Blues belonged everywhere beautiful music belonged. He successfully worked both sides of the commercial divide, with sophisticated recordings and "raw, raucous" live performance.
2006–2015: farewell tour and later activities
In 2006, King went on a "farewell" world tour, although he remained active afterward during the last years of his life. The tour was partly supported by Northern Irish guitaristGary Moore, with whom King had previously toured and recorded, including the song "Since I Met You Baby". It started in the United Kingdom, and continued with performances in the Montreux Jazz Festival and in Zürich at the Blues at Sunset. During his show in Montreux at the Stravinski Hall he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Leela James, Andre Beeka, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendricks and George Duke.
In June 2006, King was present at a memorial of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected. The same month, a groundbreaking was held for a new museum, dedicated to King, in Indianola, Mississippi. The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened on September 13, 2008.
In late October 2006, King recorded a concert album and video entitled B.B. King: Live at his B.B. King Blues Clubs in Nashville and Memphis. The four-night production featured his regular B.B. King Blues Band and captured his show as he performed it nightly around the world. Released in 2008, it was his first live performance recording in over a decade.
In 2007, King played at Eric Clapton's second Crossroads Guitar Festival and contributed the songs "Goin' Home", to Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (with Ivan Neville's DumpstaPhunk) and "One Shoe Blues" to Sandra Boynton's children's album Blue Moo, accompanied by a pair of sock puppets in a music video for the song.
In the summer of 2008, King played at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, where he was given a key to the city. Also in 2008, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
King performed at the Mawazine festival in Rabat, Morocco, on May 27, 2010. In June 2010, King performed at the Crossroads Guitar Festival with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. He also contributed to Cyndi Lauper's album Memphis Blues, which was released on June 22, 2010.
In 2011, King played at the Glastonbury Music Festival, and in the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he recorded a concert video.
On February 21, 2012, King was among the performers of "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues", during which President Barack Obama sang part of "Sweet Home Chicago". King recorded for the debut album of rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T., who also hails from Mississippi. On July 5, 2012, King performed a concert at the Byblos International Festival in Lebanon.
On October 3, 2014, not feeling well enough, King had to stop his live performance at the House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois. A doctor diagnosed King with dehydration and exhaustion, and the eight remaining shows of his ongoing tour had to be cancelled. King didn't schedule any additional shows for the remainder of the year.
King was married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. The failure of both marriages has been attributed to the heavy demands made on the marriage by King's 250 performances a year. It is reported that he fathered 15 children with several different women and, as of 2004, had 50 grandchildren. He lived with diabetes for over 20 years and was a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products along with American Idol season 9 contestant Crystal Bowersox.
King was an FAA certificated private pilot and learned to fly in 1963 at what was then Chicago Hammond Airport in Lansing, Illinois. He frequently flew to gigs but in 1995 his insurance company and manager asked him to fly only with another certified pilot. As a result, he stopped flying around the age of 70.
|Oral History, B.B. King reflects on his greatest musical influences. interview date August 3, 2005, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library|
King's favorite singer was Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography he spoke about how he was a "Sinatra nut" and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra's classic album In the Wee Small Hours. During the 1960s Sinatra had arranged for King to play at the main clubs in Las Vegas. He credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who were not given the chance to play in "white-dominated" venues.
Illness and death
|Wikinews has related news:Blues musician B.B. King dies aged 89|
After the cancellation of the remaining eight shows of his 2014 tour because of health problems, King announced on October 8, 2014, he was back at home to recuperate. On May 1, 2015, after two hospitalizations caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes, King announced on his website that he was in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died in his sleep on May 14, 2015.
King's cause of death is believed to be a series of small strokes caused by type 2 diabetes. However, two of his daughters alleged that King was deliberately poisoned by two associates trying to induce diabetic shock. The Clark County coroner's office confirmed on May 25, 2015, that it was performing an autopsy on King's body and conducting a homicide investigation with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, although CNN reported that initial indications did not support the notion of foul play.
Funeral and burial
On May 27, 2015, his body was flown to Memphis. The funeral procession led down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing "When the Saints Go Marching In", as mourners called out "BB". Rodd Bland, son of the late blues singer Bobby "Blue" Bland, carried the latest iteration of King's famous guitar "Lucille." Thousands lined the streets to pay their last respects. His body was then driven downRoute 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.
On May 29, 2015, King's body was laid out, in a purple satin shirt and a floral tuxedo jacket, flanked by two black Gibson guitars, at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, in Indianola. Fans lined up to view his open casket. 
On May 30, 2015, King's funeral was held at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola, Mississippi. He was buried at the museum.
For more information about King's guitar, see Lucille (guitar).
B.B. King used simple equipment. He played guitars made by various manufacturers early in his career: he played a Fender Telecaster on most of his recordings with RPM Records (USA). However, he was best known for playing variants of the Gibson ES-355. In 1980, Gibson Guitar Corporation launched the B.B. King Lucille model. In 2005, Gibson made a special run of 80 Gibson Lucilles, referred to as the "80th Birthday Lucille", the first prototype of which was given as a birthday gift to King, and which he used thereafter.
King used a Lab Series L5 2×12" combo amplifier and had been using this amplifier for a long time. It was made by Norlin Industries for Gibson in the 1970s and 1980s. Other popular L5 users are Allan Holdsworthand Ty Tabor of King's X. The L5 has an onboard compressor, parametric equalization, and four inputs. King also used a Fender Twin Reverb.
He used his signature model strings "Gibson SEG-BBS B.B. King Signature Electric Guitar Strings" with gauges: 10–13–17p–32w–45w–54w and D'Andrea 351 MD SHL CX (Medium 0.71mm, Tortoise Shell, Celluloid) Picks.
B.B. King's Blues Club
In 1991, B.B. King's Blues Club opened on Beale Street in Memphis, and in 1994, a second club was launched at Universal City Walk in Los Angeles. A third club in New York City's Times Square opened in June 2000. Two further clubs opened at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in January 2002 and another in Nashville in 2003. Another club opened in Orlando in 2007. A club in West Palm Beach opened in the fall of 2009 and an additional one, based in the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas, opened in the winter of 2009.
In 2002, King signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in underprivileged public schools throughout the United States. He sat on the organization's Honorary Board of Directors.
Television and other appearances
King made guest appearances in numerous popular television shows, including The Cosby Show, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, Married... with Children, Sanford and Son, and Touched by an Angel. He also had a cameo in the movies Spies Like Us, Heart and Souls and Blues Brothers 2000. He voiced a character in the last episode of Cow and Chicken.
In 2000, the children's show Between The Lions featured a singing character named "B.B. the King Of Beasts", modeled on the real King.
A feature documentary about King narrated by Morgan Freeman and directed by Jon Brewer was released on October 15, 2012.
King, who was diabetic, appeared in several television commercials for OneTouch Ultra in the 2000s and early 2010s. He appeared in a 2014 commercial for the Toyota Camry with his guitar Lucille.
Main article: B.B. King discography
- Singin' the Blues (1956)
- The Blues (1958)
- B.B. King Wails (1959)
- King of the Blues (1960)
- Sings Spirituals (1960)
- The Great B.B. King (1960)
- My Kind of Blues (1961)
- Blues For Me (1961)
- Blues in My Heart (1962)
- Easy Listening Blues (1962)
- B.B. King (1963)
- Mr. Blues (1963)
- Confessin' the Blues (1966)
- Blues on Top of Blues (1968)
- Lucille (1968)
- Live & Well (1969)
- Completely Well (1969)
- Indianola Mississippi Seeds (1970)
- B.B. King in London (1971)
- L.A. Midnight (1972)
- Guess Who (1972)
- To Know You Is to Love You (1973)
- Friends (1974)
- King Size (1977)
- Midnight Believer (1978)
- Take It Home (1979)
- There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (1981)
- Love Me Tender (1982)
- Blues 'N' Jazz (1983)
- Six Silver Strings (1985)
- King of the Blues: 1989 (1988)
- There Is Always One More Time (1991)
- Blues Summit (1993)
- Lucille & Friends (1995)
- Deuces Wild (1997)
- Blues on the Bayou (1998)
- Let the Good Times Roll (1999)
- Makin' Love Is Good for You (2000)
- Riding with the King (2000, with Eric Clapton)
- A Christmas Celebration of Hope (2001)
- Reflections (2003)
- B.B. King & Friends: 80 (2005)
- One Kind Favor (2008)
Awards and nominations
Years reflect the year in which the Grammy was awarded, for music released in the previous year.
- 1977: Honorary Doctor of Music by Yale University
- 1980: Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame
- 1987: Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
- 1987: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
- 1990: The National Medal of Arts
- 1991: The National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA
- 1995: The Kennedy Center Honors; given to recognize "the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nation's most prestigious artists"
- 1998: Grammy Hall of Fame Award for "The Thrill is Gone"; the award is given to recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance"
- 2004: The Royal Swedish Academy of Music awarded him the Polar Music Prize for his "significant contributions to the blues"
- 2006: The Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President George W. Bush on December 15
- 2007: An honorary doctorate in music by Brown University (May 27)
- 2008: The keys to the city of Portland, Maine (May 14)
- 2009: Time named King No. 3 on its list of the 10 best electric guitarists
- 2010: Sabrosa Park (in the small town of Sabrosa, north of Portugal) was renamed B.B. King Park in honor of King and the free concert he played before 20,000 people on May 29
- Each year during the first week in June, a King Homecoming Festival is held in Indianola, Mississippi
- A Mississippi Blues Trail marker was added for King, commemorating his birthplace