B. B. King Fast Facts

Here's a look at the life of blues legend B.B. King.Perso...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 4:50 AM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 4:50 AM

Here's a look at the life of blues legend B.B. King.

Personal: Birth date: September 16, 1925

Death date: May 14, 2015

Birth place: Mississippi Delta cotton plantation between Indianola and what is now Itta Bena, Mississippi

Birth name: Riley B. King

Father: Albert Lee King, a sharecropper

Mother: Nora Ella (Pully) King

Marriages: Sue Carol Hall (1958-1966, divorced), Martha Lee Denton (1942-1950, divorced)

Children: Claims to have fathered 15 children with many different women

Military: US Army, 1943

Other Facts: King sang with church choirs as a child. He learned basic guitar chords from his uncle, a preacher, and only performed religious music at home.

King sang and played the blues on the corner of Church and Second in Indianola, and said he could earn more in one night singing on the corner than he could in one week working in the cotton field.

Enlisted in the Army during World War II but was released because he drove a tractor, an essential home front occupation.

His nickname, "BB" is short for Blues Boy, part of the name he used as a Memphis disc jockey, the Beale Street Blues Boy.

The first "Lucille" got her name after a fire broke out at a dance in Arkansas and King ran out forgetting his guitar and then risked his life to go back and get it. When he later found out that two men fighting over a woman named Lucille had knocked over a kerosene heater that had started the fire, he named the guitar Lucille, "to remind myself never to do anything that foolish."

King has used various models of Gibson guitars over the years and named them each Lucille. In the early 1980s, Gibson officially dropped the model number, ES-355, on the guitar King used and it became a custom-made signature model named Lucille, manufactured exclusively for the "King of the Blues."

King's daughter, Patty, was among the inmates at his concert at a Gainesville, Florida, correctional facility.

King has 30 Grammy nominations, 15 wins and a Lifetime Achievement award.

Timeline: 1937 - Receives his first guitar.

1947-1950 - Disc jockey for WDIA/AM Memphis.

1949 - Makes first recordings, "Miss Martha King/Take a Swing with Me" and "How Do You Feel When Your Baby Packs Up and Goes/I've Got the Blues."

December 1951 - His first hit record "Three O'clock Blues" is released. It stays on the top of the charts for four months.

1965 - Releases the album, "Live at the Regal."

June 6, 1968 - Plays the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco and receives his first standing ovation.

December 1969 - His trademark song, "The Thrill is Gone," is released as a single. The song wins his first Grammy, for Best R&B Vocal Performance Male, in March 1970.

May 2, 1970 - King debuts an all-blues show at Carnegie Hall.

October 8, 1970 - Appears on the Ed Sullivan Show.

1971 - Co-founds, with attorney F. Lee Bailey, FAIRR - Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Rehabilitation and Recreation - dedicated to the improvement of prison conditions.

1981 - Grammy winner for Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording for "There Must be a Better World Somewhere."

1983 and 1985 - Grammy winner for Best Traditional Blues Recording.

1987 - Is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1988 - Receives a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

1990 - Grammy winner for Best Traditional Blues Recording for "Live at San Quentin" and receives the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts.

1991 and 1993 - Grammy winner for Best Traditional Blues Album.

1994 - Performs at an invitation-only concert at Beijing's Hard Rock Caf-.

1995 - Kennedy Center Honoree.

1996 - King wins the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance along with Art Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Cray for "SRV Shuffle."

March 8, 1996 - "All Blues All Around Me," King's autobiography is published.

1999 - Grammy winner for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Blues on the Bayou."

2000 - Along with Eric Clapton wins the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Riding with the King" and with Dr. John wins for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Is You Is, or Is You Ain't (My Baby)."

2002 - Grammy winner for Best Traditional Blues Album for "A Christmas Celebration of Hope" and for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Auld Lang Syne."

2003 - Mississippi erects the First Mississippi Blues Trail historic site marker honoring its native son in Indianola.

2005 - Wins a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for "80."

December 15, 2006 - King is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

September 13, 2008 - The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opens to the public. In its first year, the Center has more than 30,000 visitors.

February 2009 - Wins the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for "One Kind Favor" (2008).

February 27, 2012 - In celebration of the blues, King performs in the East Room of the White House with Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck and others.

December 11, 2012 - Documentary, "BB King: The Life of Riley," opens in the United Kingdom.

October 3, 2014 - King falls ill after a show at Chicago's House of Blues due to dehydration and exhaustion. The remainder of his tour is canceled.

April 2015 - Is hospitalized for dehydration.

April 7, 2015 - King posts a message on his official website saying he wants "to thank everyone for their concern and good wishes. I'm feeling much better and am leaving the hospital today."

May 14, 2015 - Dies at the age of 89.

May 25, 2015 - Two of King's adult children allege that he was poisoned to death by two individuals who worked for him.

July 14, 2015 - The Clark County Coroner tells CNN that there was no evidence of poisoning in the death of Blues legend B.B. King. Las Vegas Coroner, John Fudenberg, states that "Alzheimer's disease was the cause of death with other significant contributing factors."

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