Blues legend BB King dies, aged 89

BB King has died, aged 89. (AP Photo)
BB King has died, aged 89. (AP Photo)
Have your say

Blues singer BB King has died in Las Vegas aged 89, his lawyer has said.

Brent Bryson said that King died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas.

The one-time farmhand brought new fans to the blues and influenced a generation of musicians with his heartfelt vocals and soaring guitar on songs such as The Thrill Is Gone.

King sold millions of records worldwide and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

King played a Gibson guitar that he affectionately called Lucille and was not only the undisputed king of the blues but a mentor to scores of guitarists including Eric Clapton.

He was awarded his 15th Grammy in 2009 in the traditional blues album category for One Kind Favor.

BB King has died in Las Vegas aged 89

BB King has died in Las Vegas aged 89

King, who helped bring the blues to a worldwide audience, was born in the heart of the American south.

His life followed a similar trajectory to that of the music he played - moving from playing for change on street corners to packing out stadiums.

He was born Riley King on a cotton plantation in Mississippi, but moved to Memphis, Tennessee, as a young man intent on a career in music, where he worked as a DJ and musician and teamed up with long-time collaborator Bobby “Blue” Bland while honing his craft.

Throughout his career he updated his electric blues sound and worked with up-and-coming acts in jazz and rock but always stayed true to one thing - his guitar Lucille.

The instrument, a hollowbody Gibson guitar which became his trademark, was replaced many times over the years but always kept the same name.

His influence can still be heard in the music of fans including Clapton and U2, who teamed up with King to record When Love Comes To Town in 1988.

He continued to tour, often performing hundreds of shows a year, and always set aside a few weeks to play back in Mississippi.

Asked about the blues, he said: “I’m trying to get people to see that we are our brother’s keeper.

“Red, white, black, brown or yellow, rich or poor, we all have the blues.”

Ringo Starr tweeted: “God bless BB King, peace and love to his family, Ringo and Barbara.”

Rapper Snoop Dogg posted a photo of King holding his trademark Gibson guitar, which he always named Lucille, on his Instagram page.

Actor Hugh Laurie, who himself released blues albums in 2011 and 2013, tweeted: “Oh God. BB King. Let the sad times roll.”

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora wrote: “My friend and legend BB King passed. I’m so so sad. He was so great to me. We’ve lost the King. My love and prayers to his family.”

Lenny Kravitz tweeted: “BB, anyone could play a thousand notes and never say what you said in one. RIP BB King,” while Bryan Adams added similar sentiments: “RIP BB King, one of the best blues guitarists ever, maybe the best. He could do more on one note than anyone.”

Gene Simmons added: “Very sad. BB King, rest in peace,” while Charmed actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: “Rest with the angels, BB King.”

British stars also added their condolences, with Homeland star David Harewood tweeting “RIP BB King. The thrill is gone. Legend.” The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey added: “Sad news, goodbye to the great BB King,” with a YouTube clip of one of his performances, and former Pop Idol winner Will Young wrote: “BB King - the most wonderful blues singer and guitarist. I suggest everyone gets one of his records to hear true soul and spirit.”