bb2A couple of years ago I was on a trip along the Mississippi, from Memphis to Nachez.

We dined in BB King’s Reataurant on Beale Street, and visited the BB King Museum.

When several sites for the Museum were shown to BB King, he pointed to one and said, ‘I used to work there!’

P1040948 (Small)So full circle, from old cotton gin to Museum for one of the Blues’ greatest legends!

The world will mourn his death, but his music will live for ever!

B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center

B.B. King through the years

In Memoriam

Riley B “B.B.” King, 89, of Las Vegas, NV, died May 14. He was an American music icon known worldwide as a leading electric blues guitarist and singer, known as “The King of The Blues.”

The winner of 15 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors, and more, King leaves a legacy of influence on American music. Coming from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, King remained true to the blues, and won millions of fans including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and U.S. Presidents.

With his guitar “Lucille” strapped to his chest, he performed and recorded decades of musical hits like his signature “The Thrill Is Gone.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991. He is in the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. In 2008 his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, opened a $14 million museum to honor him.

King was born near Berclair, Mississippi on Sept. 16, 1925 to sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King. His parents split up when he was four, and his mother took him to Kilmichael, Mississippi where her mother lived. Riley’s mother died when he was nine and he lived with his grandmother until she died. At age 14, he was living alone on Edwayne Henderson’s farm, share cropping an acre of cotton and living on $2.50 a month (the equivalent of $42.50 in today’s dollars).  A white family allowed him to live in a two-room cabin behind their home. He did chores to earn his keep. He borrowed money to buy his first guitar.

He moved to a Delta cotton plantation outside Indianola where he married his first wife Martha and became a member of the local five-man St. John’s Gospel Singers. On Saturdays he would play blues on the street corner in Indianola and listen to accomplished bluesmen at the Club Ebony.

In 1947, he left the plantation for Memphis where he began his music career on Beale Street. He landed a job on WDIA Radio as a disc jockey and became known as the “Beale Street Blues Boy.” That moniker was later shortened to “Blues Boy,” then, finally, to “B.B.”  On-air he would promote his band’s live appearances in area nightspots. His first record was recorded in Memphis. In 1952, his first hit “Three O’Clock Blues” topped the Billboard’s R&B chart and his career took off.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, he and his band were mainly on the Chitlin’ Circuit, a network of clubs and theaters where black entertainers were allowed to perform. Travel was mostly in the band’s bus. But in the mid-1960s, B.B. King entered the mainstream as a wave of British rockers who were influenced by American blues music, exposed blues and B.B. to white audiences. He began winning new hearts and truly “crossed over” as he played in countries around the world.

His appearance on the live broadcast of the Ed Sullivan Show in 1971 in front of a national audience of 50 million was significant, confirming with the American public that he had arrived. ( When Sullivan introduced him, he proclaimed, “And now, from Indianola, Mississippi, the great blues singer, B. … B. … King!”  In the six-minute set, he sang “Just A Little Bit of Love” and a medley, “How Blue Can You Get” and “The Thrill Is Gone.” )

His albums came in a steady succession. So did the Grammy awards. In 1987 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy. He was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995.  He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2006, and the prestigious Polar Music Prize which has been called “The Nobel Prize of Music” in Sweden. His guitar is on the current Mississippi license plate.

He was an ambassador of the blues, traveling around the world, greeting fans from Moscow to Beijing to Sydney.

For over three decades he and his band returned to his hometown of Indianola and gave a concert for the citizens there. The small Delta town of 11,000 opened a $14 million museum in 2008 to honor its famous bluesman. The acclaimed museum tells the story of the one-time cotton picker who became an international music icon.

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.