B.B. King

Who is the guitarist who comes to mind when you think of the Blues? None other than Riley B. King, better known as B.B. King, who was born on September 16, 1925, in Itta Bena, Mississippi. He grew up in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, surrounded by the sounds of blues and gospel music. He called his guitar Lucille (of course!) a Gibson ES-335 of which there is now a signature model available.


King's musical journey began in the 1940s when he honed his craft as a traveling musician, playing in juke joints and bars across the South, the Chitlin circuit. His big break came in 1948 when he landed his first recording contract with the Bullet Records label.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, King rose to prominence as one of the preeminent figures in the blues genre. His soulful voice and distinctive guitar style, characterized by his stinging vibrato and emotive bends, captivated audiences around the world.

To be honest he was never the greatest technician but more than made up for that with feel. He'd modestly say...

I know they put me in polls of the top 50 guitarists, I don't think so but I thank them!


In 1969, King released his landmark album "Live at the Regal," considered by many to be one of the greatest live blues recordings of all time. The album showcased his electrifying stage presence and featured timeless classics like "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Sweet Little Angel."

Throughout his career, King recorded over 40 studio albums and numerous live recordings, leaving an indelible mark on the blues landscape. His discography includes iconic albums such as "B.B. King Wails" (1959), "Live in Cook County Jail" (1971), and "Blues Summit" (1993).

King's signature song, "The Thrill is Gone," released in 1969, became his most famous composition and a staple of his live performances. The song's haunting melody and poignant lyrics solidified his status as a blues legend.


In addition to his solo work, King collaborated with a diverse array of artists, from fellow blues musicians like Bobby "Blue" Bland to rock icons like Eric Clapton and The Edge from U2. His willingness to cross musical boundaries and experiment with different styles endeared him to audiences of all backgrounds.


Offstage, King was known for his affable personality and charismatic stage presence. He once quipped,

I'm just a simple blues man, trying to make a living out of what I love.

Despite his fame, he remained humble and down-to-earth, earning him respect and admiration from fans and peers alike.

In his personal life, King was a devoted family man and philanthropist, known for his generosity and compassion. He established the B.B. King Blues Foundation to support aspiring musicians and promote the blues genre.

In summary, B.B. King's impact on the world of music is immeasurable. His soulful voice, masterful guitar playing, and enduring legacy continue to inspire generations of musicians and fans. As he once said,

'The blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play the blues and then not be blue anymore.

Songs: The Thrill is Gone, Every Day I Have the Blues and Sweet Little Angel.

Gear: Gibson ES-335 BB King Guitar   

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