BB King – The Most Legendary Blues Music Guitar Personality Ever – Part 1
One of my preferred guitarists has always been blues guitar music legend BB King! He is arguably the most influential and certainly the most visible blues guitarist in history. Various famous guitar players such as Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons and Mike Bloomfield have all acknowledged their personal debt to BB King. And, BB King’s guitar playing today stays just as fresh, vibrant and alive as ever! Luckily, for aspiring blues guitarists there is a wealth of instructional blues guitar tab books as well as a blues guitar DVD study course taught by BB King himself!
Riley King was born in Mississippi in 1925 to Albert and Nora King. His mother left her spouse for a different man when BB was 4 years old and he was despatched to live with his maternal grandmother also in Mississippi without objection from his dad. Nora had 2 other spouses and BB was shuffled back and forth between them and his grandmother. His musical schooling commenced once he started singing in the Sanctified Church, whose preacher Archie Fair was his uncles’ brother-in-law. Archie Fair strummed some gospel guitar music and gave the inquisitive youngster his first enticing taste of playing on the strings. BB’s mom died in 1935 but thankfully not before she could summon her 9 year old son to her side just before passing away.
Afterwards, BB proceeded to go again to live with his grandmother and attended the Baptist backed Elkhorn School where he continued strengthening his young voice in the gospel choir. When his grandmother died in 1940, the 14 year old attempted tenant farming on her property right up until later that year when he left for the Delta to reside with his father and extended family for the following 2 years. By the age of 15 he was already performing on street corners. He had found that he could generate more money in tips in one day of playing guitar than he could for a total week’s work of picking cotton! Soon he was performing singing commercials on Memphis radio channels and from there he moved on to obtaining his own show. It was at this time that he picked up the nickname “BB” which was short for “Blues Boy”.
His reputation continued to grow and at some point he was signed to the RPM record label. His first hit “3 O’Clock Blues” proceeded to go to Number 1 on the rhythm and blues charts and foretold the arrival of a blues guitar playing superstar. BB continued touring and making records through the fifties, but it wasn’t till the sixties that his name became familiar to white audiences. In 1970 he won a grammy award for his huge hit “The Thrill Is Gone”. To this day, he continues to tour over 200 days a year and to make recordings with his band and with various other performers as varied as Larry Carlton and U2. His many tv and movie appearances along with numerous awards continue to assert his stature as an all time blues guitar great.
Peabody Conservatory trained guitarist Steven Herron helps guitar players become better guitarists. His company ChordMelody.com features an enormous selection of blues guitar tabs as well as instructional DVDs by BB King himself. Find out more and claim Steven’s popular free monthly guitar lesson e-course available at: =>
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