October 5th 2014 B.B. King cancelled his remaining 8 tour dates due to illness, yesterday he passed away in his sleep at the the grand age of 89.
The world famous singer and guitarist, who began life on a plantation in Mississippi and was universally acclaimed as one of the best blues musicians of all time. King is celebrated for bringing the raw music of the cotton fields in the segregated south of America to a global audience, and inspiring guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. At 89, he outlived blues contemporaries including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker.Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time ranked him third in 2003, behind only Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman.
He learned the guitar as a boy, and after army service during the second world war busked to earn money, hitchhiking to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1947 where he was taught by, and played blues guitar with, his cousin Bukka White. From touring black bars and dance halls in his early career, he would end up headlining at New York’s Carnegie Hall, recording with the likes of Clapton and U2, with whom he collaborated on the 1989 track When Love Comes to Town.
At the height of his career he was touring the world with his trademark Gibson guitars and performing 300 nights in a year.
King won 15 Grammys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
BB King was that rare thing – a game-changer who was also beloved. Asked about the blues, he said: “I am trying to get people to see that we are our brother’s keeper. Red, white, black, brown or yellow, rich or poor, we all have the blues.”