B.B. King is dead, and the blues have lost a legend. Known for songs such as “The Thrill is Gone” and occasionally collaborating with artists looking for a blues bonus, Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation in Mississippi.
King passed away yesterday at the age of 89, having earned a place among the greats for his musical talents. He has been known as one of the “three Kings of the blues guitar” along with Albert King and Freddie King, not only playing on the names of the musicians, but honoring his ability to strike a chord in the hearts of music lovers everywhere.
While most musicians today use expensive and complicated electric guitars and synthesizers to varying degrees of success, King used a simple Gibson acoustic guitar he named Lucille. Along with his voice, he created heartfelt masterpieces and earned a place in many lists of greatest musicians of all time.
The death of B.B. King leaves behind a legacy among classic rockers and across the plane of entertainment. According to the San Francisco Gate, he mentored Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and several others in the golden age of guitar-driven classic rock. His incredible style has inspired everything from Lisa Simpson’s animated mentor to the Dan Aykroyd-driven Blues Brothers.
The blues legend died in his Las Vegas home after having collapsed on stage last October. According to CNN, he spent the last two weeks in hospice care after allegedly suffering from dehydration. He was known for his refusal to slow down, still touring well into his 80s.
Sadly, according to TMZ, B.B King was dead, going peacefully in his sleep, before his daughter Patty even had a chance to say goodbye. They had planned to visit him at noon on Saturday.
King once explained in 2006 what he was trying to do with his music.
“Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said, to make the audience understand what I’m trying to do more. When I’m singing, I don’t want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.”
The blues will not die with King though, as he also once said, “People all over the world have problems. And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die.”
B.B. King is dead, but his legacy will live on.
[Image via Larry Busacca / Getty Images]