The King of Blues has been laid to rest in his hometown in Mississippi, though a couple of his children still do not believe that he died of natural causes.
B.B. King was laid to rest in his spiritual hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, in a service attended by thousands of fans. Though King was born in a small town just a few miles outside of Indianola, his career took off there and he always regarded it as his “true hometown.”
King was regarded as the embodiment of the alleviation of racial tension in Indianola, a particularly hard place for black people to visit or live in the 1960s and 70s. The attempt to bring him back home in the 1980s caused black and white residents to work together to hold “homecoming shows,” and there were interracial parties held in King’s honor.
The open casket service, held at the B.B. King Museum, was attended by thousands of fans. King was buried in a purple shirt with a floral jacket, and he was nestled between a pair of black Gibson guitars. An image of King’s legendary guitar, Lucille, was embroidered on the white silk lining of the casket-lid.
B.B. King was revered by many. At the service, Mississippi Rep. Bernie Thompson read a touching letter from President Barack Obama.
“The blues has lost it’s king, and American has lost a legend. No one worked harder than B.B. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn’t do — but will always be glad you did. B.B. may be gone but that thrill will be with us forever.”
King died aged 89 on May 14 from as yet unknown causes, which led to his two daughters, Karen Williams and Patty King (an ex-cocaine trafficker), signing an affidavit against the legend’s two aides, whom they accuse of poisoning him. The aides’ lawyer refutes these claims, and an autopsy report completely denies the chance of poisoning.
The allegation for B.B. King’s murder stems from a feud started last year between King’s manager, LaVerne Toney, and his children over B.B. King’s affairs. Toney held power of attorney over the King estate and controlled medical care, but King’s children wanted more control over their father’s affairs.
Two independent investigators both gave the same response: King was categorically not poisoned. A local coroner stating that he’d died from a series of small strokes.
After the allegations were proven wrong, another one of King’s children, Willie, released a statement to the Guardian on Friday about his two sisters.
“There are always – I don’t want to call them this, but – there’s always a rotten apple in the barrel. And sometimes you can take hurt, and turn it into something that it should not be. And I think out of the anger of losing their dad, they went to the extreme. I pray that the public don’t really accept them as an angry person like that, because being my sisters, they are not like that. But sometimes you just don’t know how to express yourself. And you jump out at the nearest person. And they attacked the wrong person.”
Though King himself has been laid to rest, the ensuing trial that may follow has not been.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]