B. B. King

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Riley B. King (born September 16, 1925), known by the stage name B.B. King, is an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and guitar playing.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at #3 on its list of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time".[1] According to Edward M. Komara, King "introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed."[2] King has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Early life

King was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, to Alfred King and Nora Elle Farr.

In 1930, when King was four years old, his father abandoned the family and his mother married another man. Because Nora Elle was too poor to raise her son, King was raised by his maternal grandmother Elnora Farr in Kilmichael, Mississippi.[3]

King grew up singing in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. At age 12, he purchased his first guitar for $15.00.[3] In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver.

In 1946, King followed his cousin Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months.[3] However, King shortly returned to Mississippi, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit, and returned to West Memphis, Arkansas, two years later in 1948. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas he began to develop a local audience for his sound. King's appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the legendary Memphis radio station WDIA. "King's Spot," became so popular, it was expanded and became the "Sepia Swing Club."

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