B.B. King

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At a Glance

Birthname: Riley King
Nationality: American
Born: Sep 16 1925


Biography

Blues legend B.B. King had been spending recent years thinking about "The B.B. King That Was." There is his bricks, mortar and memory project down in a Mississippi blues crossroads, his very own B.B. King Museum, which acknowledges his past. And then, his new Geffen Records CD One Kind Favor which puts the blues maestro in competition, not with other players, but himself. "The B.B. King That Was."

The phrase comes from King in conversation with Grammy award winning producer T. Bone Burnett. They had met to discuss ideas for what became One Kind Favor, King's first studio recording in ... Read more

Blues legend B.B. King had been spending recent years thinking about "The B.B. King That Was." There is his bricks, mortar and memory project down in a Mississippi blues crossroads, his very own B.B. King Museum, which acknowledges his past. And then, his new Geffen Records CD One Kind Favor which puts the blues maestro in competition, not with other players, but himself. "The B.B. King That Was."

The phrase comes from King in conversation with Grammy award winning producer T. Bone Burnett. They had met to discuss ideas for what became One Kind Favor, King's first studio recording in three years. Burnett's suggestion, the starting point for the recording, was that King revisit the music he was playing and which influenced him in the 1950s, the beginning of King's extraordinary professional journey that, literally, changed the texture of modern blues playing.

King was known as The Lion In Winter, remaining a force of nature even throughout his 80s with a work schedule - and ethic - that qualified him as one of the country's most active seniors.

But, as he admitted himself, there had been a transformation over the decades. "The B.B. King That Was" was a different take on blues compared to the 2008 version, "The B.B. King That Is."

King, who first started recording in 1949, considered the idea of returning to his 1950s persona very carefully. "Times and the music have changed so much but those old records still sound pretty good," he admitted. To make sure the process worked in recent times, Burnett and King replicated the kind of blues band King had back in the day (Since 1955, King has always carried his own band on the road, on his payroll). Studio conditions of the time were reproduced (Burnett, as always, obsessive about how sound sounds). Recording was live in studio with King's voice and guitar up front, lots of single string runs from the master, call and response from guitar and the horn section congregation. Included were Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) night tripping away on New Orleans piano, go-to session bass player Nathan East (Eric Clapton, etc) on stand up acoustic bass and equally in-demand drummer Jim Keltner (Beatles, Stones, etc) bringing the best of his r&b chops to the occasion.

Said King afterwards: "It was one of the most relaxed sessions I've had in a long time. As I read in the Bible, one on one accord. It didn't seem like we were working, like we were creating. It was like it was already there. Everybody was ready for it. Half of us had never heard the tunes but we got right into it."

"I was surrounded by a lot of my favorite people. Dr. John is a lifelong friend. Nobody like the Doc. He seems to just read my mind. T. Bone has the know how, don't mind letting you be yourself. Like a blind man, if he's walking a straight line you don't really have to hold his arm. But if he starts to move either way, you have to straighten him out. T. Bone produces that way."

The search for King's musical genealogy actually traveled further back than the 1950s. After presenting King with a 200 song list from which to pick the final 12, Burnett noted: "We went to the beginning of the last century to find the songs he used to do. Records he loved when he was growing up." A literally true statement. The CD's title is taken from the first single, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927. B.B. King first heard it on his Aunt Mimy Stells' console Victrola (a wind-up gramophone) when he was probably around 14 years old. Impact was immediate and lasting. As King told writer Stanley Dance: "I had a young aunt who was just like the teenagers of today - you know, buying all the popular records. And that's how I heard blues people like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson and Robert Johnson. Out of her record collection, Blind Lemon came to be one of the guys who would stay with me all the time."

Other influentials represented on One Kind Favor include virtuoso guitar player and singer, the aforementioned Lonnie Johnson and Texas musician Aaron T Bone Walker, who is most represented on the CD with four titles. "I used to try my best to play like Lonnie Johnson and T Bone Walker and I could never really make it," King once explained. "My fingers just wouldn't do it. Say I had stupid fingers. But if I could have copied them I would have. Instead I just got ideas from them."

King found it easy to recall the moments of epiphany that changed him. T Bone Walker, for instance, the musician who truly introduced the blues to the electric guitar and electric guitarists to the blues. "I can still hear T Bone in my mind today from the first record I heard, around '43 or '44. I tried my best to get that sound, especially in the late 40s and early 50s. He made me so that I just knew I had to go out and get an electric guitar," King once remarked.

The names found within the music of One Kind Favor read like an honor roll of American blues. The Mississippi Sheiks ("Sitting On Top of the World" -1930, "The World Is Gone Wrong" -1931), unknown today but a blues/country/string/hokum band from the very early 1930s, of considerable popularity in their time. "Backwater Blues," written and recorded in 1927 by "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, has King giving a nod to the version by Chicago blues singer, Big Bill Broonzy. Similarly "Blues Before Sunrise," the classic Leroy Carr composition (recorded by him in 1934) pays deference to King contemporary John Lee Hooker's version. The blues information originally obtained by King from these, and other mentors, provided him with the tools to equal and overtake them and to change the modern blues landscape.

On September 10 2008, he officially opened the B.B. King Museum and Delta
Interpretive Center, a $12 Million, 18,000 square foot facility on 23 acres, designed to honor King's life work and the cultural heritage of Mississippi Delta blues. It houses the museum itself, full of animated, narrated exhibits including B.B. King Memorabilia and awards (such as his ES-345 Gibson guitars - Lucille! - and 14 Grammy Awards) and a theatre with a 180 degree screen. Everything is built around a "ginnery," a restored brick cotton gin mill, the last one in Mississippi.

King was proud of the fact that half of the $12 million was raised through private donation, an astonishing feat for a small Mississippi town but proof of the esteem in which its most famous native son is held. There's a B.B. King Blvd and a Lucille Str. In town. "In the Delta they think B.B. King can walk on water!" said one resident.

Contributing to The B.B. King Museum are companies that have previously been involved in design and construction of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institution. and the Tokyo Disneyland!

The B.B. King Museum will also be a central part of a proposed Mississippi Blues Trail, Similar to the Civil War Trail, this ambitious project will highlight the many sites connected to blues history in the state. Says King: "That seems right. Mississippi gave America the blues, now the blues is giving back. in tourist dollars!"

B.B. King continued to work hard up until his last days. The musician who started off in the late 1940s playing juke joints, tobacco barns and any hole-in-the-wall club that would have him, all for nickels and dimes, transitioned to top dollar headlining festivals, huge stadiums and big city concert halls. This was a musician who once clocked a total of 342 one nighters in one single year.

In his final seventh decade as a performer, B.B. King was revered and idolized. He embraced the opportunity to witness the blues - his blues - cross over as mainstream music.

B.B. King passed away at home in Las Vegas on May 14 2015, while sleeping. He was 89.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Blues legend B.B. King had been spending recent years thinking about "The B.B. King That Was." There is his bricks, mortar and memory project down in a Mississippi blues crossroads, his very own B.B. King Museum, which acknowledges his past. And then, his new Geffen Records CD One Kind Favor which puts the blues maestro in competition, not with other players, but himself. "The B.B. King That Was."

The phrase comes from King in conversation with Grammy award winning producer T. Bone Burnett. They had met to discuss ideas for what became One Kind Favor, King's first studio recording in three years. Burnett's suggestion, the starting point for the recording, was that King revisit the music he was playing and which influenced him in the 1950s, the beginning of King's extraordinary professional journey that, literally, changed the texture of modern blues playing.

King was known as The Lion In Winter, remaining a force of nature even throughout his 80s with a work schedule - and ethic - that qualified him as one of the country's most active seniors.

But, as he admitted himself, there had been a transformation over the decades. "The B.B. King That Was" was a different take on blues compared to the 2008 version, "The B.B. King That Is."

King, who first started recording in 1949, considered the idea of returning to his 1950s persona very carefully. "Times and the music have changed so much but those old records still sound pretty good," he admitted. To make sure the process worked in recent times, Burnett and King replicated the kind of blues band King had back in the day (Since 1955, King has always carried his own band on the road, on his payroll). Studio conditions of the time were reproduced (Burnett, as always, obsessive about how sound sounds). Recording was live in studio with King's voice and guitar up front, lots of single string runs from the master, call and response from guitar and the horn section congregation. Included were Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) night tripping away on New Orleans piano, go-to session bass player Nathan East (Eric Clapton, etc) on stand up acoustic bass and equally in-demand drummer Jim Keltner (Beatles, Stones, etc) bringing the best of his r&b chops to the occasion.

Said King afterwards: "It was one of the most relaxed sessions I've had in a long time. As I read in the Bible, one on one accord. It didn't seem like we were working, like we were creating. It was like it was already there. Everybody was ready for it. Half of us had never heard the tunes but we got right into it."

"I was surrounded by a lot of my favorite people. Dr. John is a lifelong friend. Nobody like the Doc. He seems to just read my mind. T. Bone has the know how, don't mind letting you be yourself. Like a blind man, if he's walking a straight line you don't really have to hold his arm. But if he starts to move either way, you have to straighten him out. T. Bone produces that way."

The search for King's musical genealogy actually traveled further back than the 1950s. After presenting King with a 200 song list from which to pick the final 12, Burnett noted: "We went to the beginning of the last century to find the songs he used to do. Records he loved when he was growing up." A literally true statement. The CD's title is taken from the first single, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927. B.B. King first heard it on his Aunt Mimy Stells' console Victrola (a wind-up gramophone) when he was probably around 14 years old. Impact was immediate and lasting. As King told writer Stanley Dance: "I had a young aunt who was just like the teenagers of today - you know, buying all the popular records. And that's how I heard blues people like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson and Robert Johnson. Out of her record collection, Blind Lemon came to be one of the guys who would stay with me all the time."

Other influentials represented on One Kind Favor include virtuoso guitar player and singer, the aforementioned Lonnie Johnson and Texas musician Aaron T Bone Walker, who is most represented on the CD with four titles. "I used to try my best to play like Lonnie Johnson and T Bone Walker and I could never really make it," King once explained. "My fingers just wouldn't do it. Say I had stupid fingers. But if I could have copied them I would have. Instead I just got ideas from them."

King found it easy to recall the moments of epiphany that changed him. T Bone Walker, for instance, the musician who truly introduced the blues to the electric guitar and electric guitarists to the blues. "I can still hear T Bone in my mind today from the first record I heard, around '43 or '44. I tried my best to get that sound, especially in the late 40s and early 50s. He made me so that I just knew I had to go out and get an electric guitar," King once remarked.

The names found within the music of One Kind Favor read like an honor roll of American blues. The Mississippi Sheiks ("Sitting On Top of the World" -1930, "The World Is Gone Wrong" -1931), unknown today but a blues/country/string/hokum band from the very early 1930s, of considerable popularity in their time. "Backwater Blues," written and recorded in 1927 by "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, has King giving a nod to the version by Chicago blues singer, Big Bill Broonzy. Similarly "Blues Before Sunrise," the classic Leroy Carr composition (recorded by him in 1934) pays deference to King contemporary John Lee Hooker's version. The blues information originally obtained by King from these, and other mentors, provided him with the tools to equal and overtake them and to change the modern blues landscape.

On September 10 2008, he officially opened the B.B. King Museum and Delta
Interpretive Center, a $12 Million, 18,000 square foot facility on 23 acres, designed to honor King's life work and the cultural heritage of Mississippi Delta blues. It houses the museum itself, full of animated, narrated exhibits including B.B. King Memorabilia and awards (such as his ES-345 Gibson guitars - Lucille! - and 14 Grammy Awards) and a theatre with a 180 degree screen. Everything is built around a "ginnery," a restored brick cotton gin mill, the last one in Mississippi.

King was proud of the fact that half of the $12 million was raised through private donation, an astonishing feat for a small Mississippi town but proof of the esteem in which its most famous native son is held. There's a B.B. King Blvd and a Lucille Str. In town. "In the Delta they think B.B. King can walk on water!" said one resident.

Contributing to The B.B. King Museum are companies that have previously been involved in design and construction of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institution. and the Tokyo Disneyland!

The B.B. King Museum will also be a central part of a proposed Mississippi Blues Trail, Similar to the Civil War Trail, this ambitious project will highlight the many sites connected to blues history in the state. Says King: "That seems right. Mississippi gave America the blues, now the blues is giving back. in tourist dollars!"

B.B. King continued to work hard up until his last days. The musician who started off in the late 1940s playing juke joints, tobacco barns and any hole-in-the-wall club that would have him, all for nickels and dimes, transitioned to top dollar headlining festivals, huge stadiums and big city concert halls. This was a musician who once clocked a total of 342 one nighters in one single year.

In his final seventh decade as a performer, B.B. King was revered and idolized. He embraced the opportunity to witness the blues - his blues - cross over as mainstream music.

B.B. King passed away at home in Las Vegas on May 14 2015, while sleeping. He was 89.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Blues legend B.B. King had been spending recent years thinking about "The B.B. King That Was." There is his bricks, mortar and memory project down in a Mississippi blues crossroads, his very own B.B. King Museum, which acknowledges his past. And then, his new Geffen Records CD One Kind Favor which puts the blues maestro in competition, not with other players, but himself. "The B.B. King That Was."

The phrase comes from King in conversation with Grammy award winning producer T. Bone Burnett. They had met to discuss ideas for what became One Kind Favor, King's first studio recording in three years. Burnett's suggestion, the starting point for the recording, was that King revisit the music he was playing and which influenced him in the 1950s, the beginning of King's extraordinary professional journey that, literally, changed the texture of modern blues playing.

King was known as The Lion In Winter, remaining a force of nature even throughout his 80s with a work schedule - and ethic - that qualified him as one of the country's most active seniors.

But, as he admitted himself, there had been a transformation over the decades. "The B.B. King That Was" was a different take on blues compared to the 2008 version, "The B.B. King That Is."

King, who first started recording in 1949, considered the idea of returning to his 1950s persona very carefully. "Times and the music have changed so much but those old records still sound pretty good," he admitted. To make sure the process worked in recent times, Burnett and King replicated the kind of blues band King had back in the day (Since 1955, King has always carried his own band on the road, on his payroll). Studio conditions of the time were reproduced (Burnett, as always, obsessive about how sound sounds). Recording was live in studio with King's voice and guitar up front, lots of single string runs from the master, call and response from guitar and the horn section congregation. Included were Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) night tripping away on New Orleans piano, go-to session bass player Nathan East (Eric Clapton, etc) on stand up acoustic bass and equally in-demand drummer Jim Keltner (Beatles, Stones, etc) bringing the best of his r&b chops to the occasion.

Said King afterwards: "It was one of the most relaxed sessions I've had in a long time. As I read in the Bible, one on one accord. It didn't seem like we were working, like we were creating. It was like it was already there. Everybody was ready for it. Half of us had never heard the tunes but we got right into it."

"I was surrounded by a lot of my favorite people. Dr. John is a lifelong friend. Nobody like the Doc. He seems to just read my mind. T. Bone has the know how, don't mind letting you be yourself. Like a blind man, if he's walking a straight line you don't really have to hold his arm. But if he starts to move either way, you have to straighten him out. T. Bone produces that way."

The search for King's musical genealogy actually traveled further back than the 1950s. After presenting King with a 200 song list from which to pick the final 12, Burnett noted: "We went to the beginning of the last century to find the songs he used to do. Records he loved when he was growing up." A literally true statement. The CD's title is taken from the first single, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927. B.B. King first heard it on his Aunt Mimy Stells' console Victrola (a wind-up gramophone) when he was probably around 14 years old. Impact was immediate and lasting. As King told writer Stanley Dance: "I had a young aunt who was just like the teenagers of today - you know, buying all the popular records. And that's how I heard blues people like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson and Robert Johnson. Out of her record collection, Blind Lemon came to be one of the guys who would stay with me all the time."

Other influentials represented on One Kind Favor include virtuoso guitar player and singer, the aforementioned Lonnie Johnson and Texas musician Aaron T Bone Walker, who is most represented on the CD with four titles. "I used to try my best to play like Lonnie Johnson and T Bone Walker and I could never really make it," King once explained. "My fingers just wouldn't do it. Say I had stupid fingers. But if I could have copied them I would have. Instead I just got ideas from them."

King found it easy to recall the moments of epiphany that changed him. T Bone Walker, for instance, the musician who truly introduced the blues to the electric guitar and electric guitarists to the blues. "I can still hear T Bone in my mind today from the first record I heard, around '43 or '44. I tried my best to get that sound, especially in the late 40s and early 50s. He made me so that I just knew I had to go out and get an electric guitar," King once remarked.

The names found within the music of One Kind Favor read like an honor roll of American blues. The Mississippi Sheiks ("Sitting On Top of the World" -1930, "The World Is Gone Wrong" -1931), unknown today but a blues/country/string/hokum band from the very early 1930s, of considerable popularity in their time. "Backwater Blues," written and recorded in 1927 by "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, has King giving a nod to the version by Chicago blues singer, Big Bill Broonzy. Similarly "Blues Before Sunrise," the classic Leroy Carr composition (recorded by him in 1934) pays deference to King contemporary John Lee Hooker's version. The blues information originally obtained by King from these, and other mentors, provided him with the tools to equal and overtake them and to change the modern blues landscape.

On September 10 2008, he officially opened the B.B. King Museum and Delta
Interpretive Center, a $12 Million, 18,000 square foot facility on 23 acres, designed to honor King's life work and the cultural heritage of Mississippi Delta blues. It houses the museum itself, full of animated, narrated exhibits including B.B. King Memorabilia and awards (such as his ES-345 Gibson guitars - Lucille! - and 14 Grammy Awards) and a theatre with a 180 degree screen. Everything is built around a "ginnery," a restored brick cotton gin mill, the last one in Mississippi.

King was proud of the fact that half of the $12 million was raised through private donation, an astonishing feat for a small Mississippi town but proof of the esteem in which its most famous native son is held. There's a B.B. King Blvd and a Lucille Str. In town. "In the Delta they think B.B. King can walk on water!" said one resident.

Contributing to The B.B. King Museum are companies that have previously been involved in design and construction of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institution. and the Tokyo Disneyland!

The B.B. King Museum will also be a central part of a proposed Mississippi Blues Trail, Similar to the Civil War Trail, this ambitious project will highlight the many sites connected to blues history in the state. Says King: "That seems right. Mississippi gave America the blues, now the blues is giving back. in tourist dollars!"

B.B. King continued to work hard up until his last days. The musician who started off in the late 1940s playing juke joints, tobacco barns and any hole-in-the-wall club that would have him, all for nickels and dimes, transitioned to top dollar headlining festivals, huge stadiums and big city concert halls. This was a musician who once clocked a total of 342 one nighters in one single year.

In his final seventh decade as a performer, B.B. King was revered and idolized. He embraced the opportunity to witness the blues - his blues - cross over as mainstream music.

B.B. King passed away at home in Las Vegas on May 14 2015, while sleeping. He was 89.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.