The thrill of his music isn’t gone, though – it’ll live on.
By Fred Mills
Thursday marked one of the saddest days ever in music – that’s when blues icon B.B. King passed away. According to the New York Times King died at his home in Las Vegas, the coroner indicating “the cause was a series of small strokes attributable to Type 2 diabetes… King [had been in] in hospice care…. He had continued to perform until October, when he canceled a tour, citing dehydration and exhaustion stemming from the diabetes.” He was 89 at the time of his death.
Riley B. “Blues Boy” King grew up the son of Mississippi sharecroppers, ultimately singing and performing in a church choir and then moving to Memphis where, following busking and small club gigs, landed on the radio. After than he commenced a recording career and had a series of hits that propelled him upward. He was known for doing 200 or more shows per year – one year he reportedly performed 340 of them – and became one of the most popular and well-known blues musicians internationally. His trademark Gibson guitar, aka “Lucille,” and such signature songs as Grammy winner “The Thrill Is Gone” are as much a part of the popular music landscape as the Beatles’ mop tops and Frank Sinatra’s croon.
King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, later gettin into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, followed by the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014.