Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known professionally as B.B. King, was an American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists.
King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of the Blues", and one of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" along with Albert King and Freddie King.
He used simple equipment. He played guitars made by various manufacturers early in his career: he played a Fender Esquire on most of his recordings with RPM Records (USA). However, he was best known for playing variants of the Gibson ES-355. In 1980, Gibson Guitar Corporation launched the B.B. King Lucille model. In 2005, Gibson made a special run of 80 Gibson Lucilles, referred to as the "80th Birthday Lucille", the first prototype of which was given as a birthday gift to King, and which he used thereafter.
King was known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s. In 1956, he reportedly appeared at 342 shows.
King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14, 2015.
Browse our unique collection of B.B.King photos and prints below
Classic photograph by Jérôme Brunet of Blues legend B.B. King performing live at the Fox Theater in Oakland
B.B. King headlines the venue at the Rainbow Theatre in 1973 with support acts from Lou Reed, Golden Earring & The Persuasions.
87 year old guitar legend B.B. King onstage at the sold-out Golden State Theatre in Monterey, California in February 2013
Pop art style artwork celebrating the legacy of B.B.King by acclaimed artist and musician Horace Panter