He was the most legendary blues performer in the history of rock and roll music.
Born Riley King in Indianola, Mississippi in 1925, BB King got his start as a singer and DJ at a local radio station. He was discovered and signed by RPM records in 1949. His earliest recordings were produced under Sun Records impresario, Sam Phillips. King released his first record in the same year and formed the back-up band "B.B. King Review" under the direction of Millard Lee. The Review consisted of several other famed musicians including saxophonists George Coleman and bassist George Joyner. With their assistance, BB King tour dates were scheduled on national tours where they played to crowded clubs and juke joints.
By the 1950s, King's music was riding high on the R&B charts and his signature guitar playing style was gaining him mainstream attention. By 1956, B.B. King was playing at over 300 concerts a year, a hectic schedule by any comparison. By 1970, King had become a mainstay on the radio and scored a pop hit and a Grammy Award for a remake of the record "The Thrill Is Gone". The track is listed at #183 on the Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." In 1969, B.B. King tour dates were booked as the opening act on the Rolling Stones's 1969 American Tour giving him mainstream exposure.
B.B. King continued to tour throughout the '80s and the '90s playing upwards of 300 shows a year. In 2000, King teamed up with Eric Clapton to produce the biggest album of King's career, "Riding With the King". The album hit #3 on the Billboard 200 and was eventually certified double-platinum and won the Grammy Award for "Best Traditional Blues Album".
Since beginning his career over fifty years ago, the prolific performer has booked and played at an estimated 15,000 live shows. He was a rock legend and a blues icon and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and ranks as Rolling Stone Magazine's #3 greatest guitarist of all time!