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B.B. King Biography

Riley B. King, better known as B. B. King or "The King of Blues" (born September 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi), is an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, widely considered one of the best and most respected blues musicians of all time.

Recording years

In 1947, B.B King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles based RPM Records. Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. King was also a disc jockey in Memphis, where he gained the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to B.B.

In the 1950s, B.B King became one of the most important names in R&B music, collecting an impressive list of hits under his belt that included songs like "You Know I Love You," "Woke Up This Morning," "Please Love Me," "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta Love," "You Upset Me Baby," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Sneakin' Around," "Ten Long Years," "Bad Luck," "Sweet Little Angel," "On My Word of Honor," and "Please Accept My Love". In 1962, King signed to ABC-Paramount Records.

In November 1964, King recorded the legendary Live at the Regal album at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.B.B. King in concert in France (1989)

King first found success outside of the blues market with the 1969 remake of the Roy Hawkins tune, "The Thrill Is Gone", which became a hit on both pop and R&B charts, which was rare for an R&B artist. It also gained the number 193 spot in the Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs Of All Time. He gained further rock visibility as an opening act on The Rolling Stones much-ballyhooed 1969 American Tour. King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love." From 1951 to 1985, King appeared on Billboard's R&B charts an amazing 74 times.

Going mainstream

The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s saw King recording less and less, but maintaining a highly visible and active career appearing on numerous television shows, performing 300 nights a year. In 1988, he reached a new generation of fans via the single "When Love Comes To Town", together with the Irish band U2 on their Rattle and Hum album. In 2000, King teamed up with guitarist Eric Clapton to record Riding With the King. In 1998 B.B. King appeared in "The Blues Brothers 2000" playing the part of the lead singer of the Louisiana Gator Boys, along with Eric Clapton, Koko Taylor, and Bo Diddley.

In 2003, King shared the stage with the rock band Phish in New Jersey, performing three of his classics and jamming with the band for over 30 minutes.
In June 2006, King was present at a memorialization of his first radio broadcast at the Three Deuces Building in Greenwood, Mississippi, where an official marker of the Mississippi Blues Trail was erected.

B.B. King also made an appearance at the Crossroads Guitar Festival put on by Eric Clapton. On the DVD he plays "Rock Me Baby" with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and Jimmie Vaughan.

Over the years more than 100 B.B. King concerts have been broadcast on radio and TV in many countries.
In June 2006, a groundbreaking was held for a new B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi. The museum is scheduled to open May 1, 2008.

Farewell tour

Aged 80 at the time, on March 29 2006, King played at the Sheffield's Hallam Arena. This was the first date of his UK and European farewell tour. He played this tour supported by ex-shredder/rocker turned bluesman Gary Moore, with whom King has previously toured and recorded, including the song "Since I Met You Baby". The British leg of the tour ended on the April 4 with a final UK concert at Wembley Arena.
In July, B.B. went back to Europe and at that time he said farewell to Switzerland, playing twice (July 2nd and 3rd) in the 40th edition of the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival and also in Zürich at the Blues at Sunset on July 14th. On his show in Montreux at the Stravinski Hall he jammed with Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn, Gladys Knight, Lella James, Earl Thomas, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin, Barbara Hendrix and George Duke. The European leg of the Farewell tour ended in Luxembourg on the 19th September 2006 at the D'Coque arena (support act: Todd Sharpville).Live at Montreux, July 2006

In November and December, King played six times in Brazil.
During a press conference on November 29th in São Paulo, a journalist asked King if that would be the actual farewell tour. He answered: "One of my favorite actors is a man from Scotland named Sean Connery. Most of you know him as James Bond, 007. He made a movie called "Never Say Never Again."

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