On December 2, 2012, the King of Blues, B.B. King played Westbury Music Fair, which is now know as NYCB Theatre in Westbury, New York. At the time he was 87 years but still enjoyed playing for his adoring fans.
King started his music career in 1949 on Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. He named his first guitar Lucille when he ran into a burning building to save it, and later learned that the fire was caused by two men knocking over a barrel of kerosene while fighting over a girl named Lucille. His guitars were usually black Gibson guitars and in 1980, Gibson introduced a B.B. King custom model.
King recorded some of the greatest rock n’ roll hits of all time like “3 O’Clock Blues,” “You Know I Love You,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “Please Love Me,” “Every Day I Have the Blues,” “You Upset Me Baby” and of course his signature hit single “Lucille,” just to name a few. He also found commercial success through a series of all-star collaborations.
On his 1997 album Deuces Wild, he enlisted artists such as Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, The Rolling Stones and Willie Nelson. In 2000, he collaborated again with Eric Clapton for the Grammy winning album Riding with the King. He has released 43 studio albums and 16 live albums and a number of compilations.
AllMusic recognized B.B as “the single most important electric guitarist of the last half of the 20th century.” He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is one of he most influential blues musicians of all time. He is also ranked at No. 6 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Over the course of his 60 year-plus career, he has received 18 Grammy awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Kennedy Center Honors, among many other awards.
King died in May of 2015 at the age of 89. His body was flown to Memphis and a funeral procession went down Beale Street with thousands of people watching and a brass marching band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” His body was then driven down Route 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi where he was laid to rest.