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About B.B. King
Nicknamed the King of the Blues, B.B. King has been recording music since the 1940s and has released more than 50 albums. Born Riley B. King on a Mississippi plantation in 1925, B.B. played guitar on street corners in his home town before hitchhiking to Memphis, Tennessee in 1947 to begin a recording career which has lasted for well over half a century. Employing a distinctive guitar style, B.B. King has influenced scores of artists over the years, including Eric Clapton and U2.
While broadcasting his music on a local Memphis radio station in 1949, King was christened with the nickname Blues Boy, which was eventually shortened to B.B. In addition to his own nickname, King has named all of the Gibson guitars he has owned over the years, Lucille. In 1951, he scored his first hit with the track Three O’Clock Blues and would go on to have many more during the fifties including Woke Up This Morning, Please Love Me and Whole Lotta’ Love. The 1964 in Concert album Live at the Regal is now regarded as a true classic and further increased King’s growing international fame. Indeed, King’s live performances are legendary and, at his peak, he regularly performed over 300 nights a year.
Over the course of his long career, B.B. King has collaborated with many other artists from a wide variety of musical genres. In addition to duets with his contemporaries, such as John Lee Hooker and Etta James, King has recorded with the likes of Gloria Estefan and Van Morrison. In 1989, he was a featured artist on the Top 10 U2 hit, When Love Comes to Town. King also has a long-standing association with Eric Clapton, the pair appearing on stage together many times and scoring a hit with the collaborative album Riding with the King in 2000.
In 1987, B.B. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. After winning his first Grammy in 1971 for the song The Thrill is Gone, King has gone on to win another 14 Grammy Awards, seven of them for Best Traditional Blues Album. B.B.King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and was awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.