B.B. King was remembered Saturday for his talent and the “amazing” life he led in a moving celebration of the blues legend’s life.
From his roots as the son of dirt-poor sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, B.B. King was much affected by the loss of his mother and grandmother when he was just a child. But from those roots came a deep passion for the blues and determination to never let those circumstances hold him back or define him, the Rev. Herron Wilson told attendees of the late B.B. King in a sanctuary at Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in B.B. King’s hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.
“Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing.”
B.B. King died May 14 in Las Vegas and per his request, his body was returned to his native Mississippi for a final homecoming, according to the Associated Press.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 30, 2015
According to the Seattle Times, B.B. King’s public viewing was held Friday and was almost like a state funeral, with Mississippi Highway Patrol officers in dress uniform standing at each end of the casket.
Two of his black electric guitars — each named Lucille — stood among sprays of flowers.
Many celebrities attended the funeral and some sent video messages, including another iconic music legend, Stevie Wonder, who shared his thoughts via a recorded message played during the ceremony.
“He will forever be the king of the blues.”
B.B. King’s friend, Christopher Clouser, said the singer asked him to deliver several messages during the funeral, which he obliged by sending along love sent by B.B. King to family and friends, and special thanks sent to his bandmates and other entertainers.
Country singer Marty Stuart said King was instrumental in creating the sound of their mutual home state.
“As a fellow Mississippian, I’m so proud to stand in his shadow as I walk across the world.”
— San Francisco News (@SFnewsnow) May 30, 2015
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said he knew firsthand that B.B. King was proud of being from Mississippi.
“He would have loved to know that one more time he’s helping the Mississippi Delta.”
He was even remembered by present and former presidents.
President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton each sent a letter, which were read aloud by B.B. King’s friend, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.
Obama noted B.B. King’s work ethic and his mark on the country.
“The blues has lost its king and America has lost a legend. No one worked harder than B.B. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues.”
— TIME.com (@TIME) May 28, 2015
Clinton recalled playing two gigs with King.
“I was his backup sax man.”
B.B. King was buried at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, which opened in 2008 to tell his life’s story.
[Photo by Greg Campbell/Getty Images]