Personalities | B.B. King | Fifties | Rock
(Guitar, vocals, b. 1925)
Riley B. King, from Indianola, Mississippi, is arguably the last surviving authentic blues artist. Orphaned, he took up guitar aged 15, turning professional after US military service. In 1947, he moved to Memphis and lived with cousin Bukka White. There, he worked on a local radio station, acquiring his B.B. (‘Blues Boy’) epithet, also working with Bobby Bland and Johnny Ace. First recording in 1949, his breakthrough came with 1951’s four-week US R&B chart-topper ‘Three O’Clock Blues’. R&B hits continued, but after signing with ABC-Paramount circa 1964, he regularly crossed over to the US pop singles chart, also making the US pop album chart from 1968, with big albums like Live And Well and Completely Well (both 1959), Live In Cook County Jail (1971) and 1974’s gold-certified Together For The First Time … Live With Bobby Bland. King toured relentlessly, and was said to have played 300 gigs per year between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s. Widely regarded as a true legend, King still performs and records, and has frequently guested with younger blues guitarists such as Eric Clapton, even sharing a 1989 minor US hit single, ‘When Love Comes To Town’, with U2.
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