orig. Riley B. King
B.B. King, 1972
(born Sept. 16, 1925, Itta Bena, near Indianola, Miss., U.S.) U.S. blues
guitarist. Reared in the Mississippi Delta, he was influenced early by gospel music
. He worked for a time as a disc jockey in Memphis, where he acquired the nickname B.B. (for Blues Boy). His first hit, “Three O'Clock Blues” (1951), was followed by a long succession of others, including “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “The Thrill Is Gone.” To his own impassioned vocal calls, King played single-string guitar responses with a distinctive vibrato, in a style influenced by Delta blues guitarists and jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt
. By the late 1960s rock guitarists were acknowledging his influence and introducing King and his guitar, Lucille, to the white public. He remains the most successful bluesman of all time.
Learn more about King, B.B. with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.