The Thrill is NOT Gone: R.I.P. B.B. King, Dead at 89, Days After Memphis Tribute

BB King playing guitar

In some very unfortunate news, legendary blues singer and guitarist B.B. King has passed away, just days after being honored in Memphis with his own B.B. King Day and #bealestreetbluesboy tribute.

Sadly, B.B. King’s daughter confirmed to media and news began circulating today that just 2 days after being honored by the Mayor and Memphis with the official May 12th B.B. King Day, her father and legendary singer and musician B.B. King had died.

B.B. King was initially expected to recover at home after hospice care following the announcement of B.B. King Day but unfortunately he did not recover.

Born on a cotton plantation near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi and raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in the Mississippi Delta, the city of Kilmichael, Mississippi to be exact, B.B. King, born Riley B. King, who started playing the guitar in his pre-teen years, made the move to Memphis in his early 20’s and soon became known as the Blues Boy.

Working at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey is where King gained the nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy”, shortened later to just “Blues Boy” and soon just B.B.

In 1991, King opened up the infamous B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street in Downtown Memphis. Soon, more clubs nationally would open in Los Angeles, on New York City’s Times Square, at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut among others.

The talented musician played his famous guitar named Lucille (which in 1980 Gibson Guitar Corporation launched the B.B. King Lucille model) since that time averaging around 200 concerts a year at his peak until his 70’s and his career was non-stop up until late 2014 when he was diagnosed with dehydration and exhaustion by his doctor.

Following that, King cancelled tour dates and returned home to recuperate but hospitalizations and complications from high blood pressure and diabetes led to him being placed in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On May 12th, the world gave tribute to B.B. King, as it was announced by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton it would be the official B.B. King Day. Unfortunately, 2 days later, King died at home on May 14 at 9:40 P.M.

King’s accolades, though too many to name, include being named in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 greatest guitarists of all time,” Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, receiving the National Medal of Arts by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2006, countless musician awards and more.

B.B. King, considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, had countless hits including one of his greatest recordings entitled “The Thrill Is Gone” (1971), which it never will be so long as King’s songs still exist.

B. B. King – The Thrill Is Gone (Live at Montreux 1993)

For more info – B.B. King is the greatest living exponent of the blues and considered by many to be the most influential guitarist of the latter part of the 20th century. His career dates back to the late forties and despite now being in his eighties he remains a vibrant and charismatic live performer.

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