Contact Us

B.B. King, Legendary Blues Guitarist, Dead at 89

BB King dead at age 89
Fergus McDonald, Getty Images

Music has lost an icon. B.B. King — singer, songwriter and groundbreaking blues guitarist — died peacefully in his sleep Thursday evening in his home in Las Vegas, the AP reports. He was 89.

King, who’d earned 15 Grammy Awards during his meteoric 70-plus-year career, had battled diabetes for close to 30 years and was hospitalized in April for dehydration. He remained in hospice care in his home following a collapse at a concert at the House of Blues in Chicago last October.

Born Riley B. King, he gained the nickname Beale Street Blues Boy while working as a singer at a Memphis radio station. Of course, the name was later shortened to Blues Boy and eventually to B.B.

His unique style of play — achieved on his beloved Gibson, affectionately named Lucille — was considered an influence on many guitarists of the modern era. Eric Clapton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Keith Richards have cited King as a mentor. He is known as the “King of the Blues.”

King produced more than 50 albums and performed live well into his final year. His 2009 album, One Kind Favor, won him his final Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. Other honors include inductions into the Blues Hall of Fame (1980) and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1987). In 1990 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts and five years later was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognizes the “lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nation’s most prestigious artists.” He’d previously received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

He is the namesake of the live music and restaurant chain B.B. King’s Blues Club, which opened its first location in Memphis in 1994 and has since expanded to Los Angeles, New York City, Nashville, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Foxwoods, Conn., and Las Vegas.

Watch B.B. King Perform Live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011

Subscribe to PopCrush on

See the Stars We Lost in 2014

Next: B.B. King's Daughter Claims Hospice Abuse

Recommended for You

Best of the Web

Best of PopCrush

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Please solve this simple math problem to prove that you are a real person.

Sign up for PopCrush quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!