The Life and Career of BB King

BB King, dubbed the “King of Blues” started his career as a DJ in Memphis before he would go on to find his own fame in the music industry.  BB King wouldn’t cut his first record until 1949 after that there was no stopping him, he would spend the next 5 decades touring and recording some of the best blues music ever made.  BB King was a tireless performer playing more than 300 shows a year.  King gained international fame and went on to play with musicians from almost every genre.  He won 15 Grammy’s and kept performing right up until his death in 2015.

Here is BB King playing his biggest hit:

Early Life

King was born into a sharecropping family on Sept 16, 1925 in Mississippi, he would go one to be one of the best known blues performers, and an inspiration for guitar players the world over.  As he began his career as a DJ in Memphis where he was nicknamed “the Beale Street Blues Boy” and that would soon be shortened to BB.  He recorded his first album in 1949 and from there he would begin an 12 year association with Kent/RPM/Modern and he would go on to record a number of blues hits.  He kept up a frenetic touring pace for the next 30 years averaging 300 shows per year.  His style of playing the blues with the scratchy vocals would earn him the title “King of the Blues”.


King’s famed guitar “Lucille” comes with an interesting story.  After recording his first album, King performed at a dance in Twist, Arkansas that had a barrel of lit kerosene in the middle of the floor that was there to keep the crowd warm at night.  The barrel was knocked over and fire spread through the building.  Everyone ran out of the building but BB ran back into to grab his guitar.  He christened the guitar Lucille to remind himself not to do anything like that again.

Acclaimed Artist

Regarded as one of the best performer of the blues King won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2006, this wasn’t new he accumulated more than a dozen Grammy’s throughout his long career. He would go on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W Bush.  There would be a museum dedicated to him in his hometown Indianola, Mississippi.  The music of BB King would go one to influence music through the ages.  He is truly a musical legend and has earned his title as “King of the Blues.”