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Guitar Play Along Vol. 100 – B.B. King Why I sing The Blues (sheet music)
B.B. King, King of the ‘blues’ and mirror for all guitarists
The North American composer developed an unmistakable style of music by making the strings vibrate with his left hand and always accompanied by his characteristic voice.
He started in a gospel choir, was a DJ and ended up being the king of the blues. He fused blues , jazz , swing and pop to become a must for rock musicians for his way of playing the guitar. But this is too simple a summary for a life full of nuances, such as the music of BB King , the nickname with which Riley B. King was consecrated in his youth.
A stage name that became a legend after more than 60 years of experience on stage and more than 50 albums published, a success that has been recognized with 15 Grammy Awards.
The truth is that he lived music that he was capable of offering between 250 and 300 concerts a year, which is why he is considered the best blues of all time. For that and because he turned each performance into something unforgettable.
“The blues is a religion, a faith. I go on stage with a mission: to make people understand that what I am going to perform is sacred: when I cannot transmit that effect, the concert was a failure”, said BB King , who has hundreds of disciples, because no one has been able to imitate him.
Riley Ben King was born in Itta Bena (Mississipi), on September 16, 1925. The son of two humble cotton farmers who lived in conditions of slavery, he had to go live with his grandmother when he was only four years old, when his parents They separated and his mother had no means to care for him. Shortly after, at the age of nine, King lost his mother.
Little King grew up singing in a gospel choir at a Baptist church and at the age of 12 he had his first guitar. However, at the age of 18, he left the town where he lived with his grandmother to work as a tractor driver and start playing guitar with a group called the Famous St. John’s Quartet, with whom he performed in area churches and at a local radio station.
There were years in which he enjoyed his musical hobby of playing on street corners and sometimes doing it in several venues in different towns in one night.
In 1947, after serving in the United States Army during World War II, Riley Ben King hitchhiked to Memphis to pursue his music career. This was where all the major musicians from the South were to be found, and where any style of African-American music could be found.
In Memphis, he became a DJ and was dubbed “the blues of Beale Street.” That nickname was shortened to BB and he stayed with his cousin Bukka White, one of the blues of his time, who taught BB the finer points of blues art.
King made his first recording in 1949 and from the following year his rhythm and blues (R&B) followed one another constantly: You know I love you, Woke up this morning and Three o’clock blues, a song with which he reached number 1 on the R&B charts. His style of music would soon earn him another appellation, that of the king of blues , with which he passed into posterity.
The year King made his first recording was also the year he named his beloved guitar. King attended a dance in Arkansas. In the middle of the dance floor was a kerosene barrel that used to keep the room warm late at night. There was a fight and the barrel tipped over, causing a fire that spread throughout the place. Everyone evacuated the premises, including King, but he returned to retrieve his prized guitar upon realizing that he had stayed inside the premises.
Fortunately, he managed to escape with his guitar when the building collapsed, and later, when King found out that the fight was over a woman who worked there named Lucille, King named his guitar the same, Lucille , to remind himself that he would never do anything that stupid again.
In 1962, BB King signed with ABC Records and released Live at the regal , a landmark blues concert album. Seven years later, in 1969, he released his biggest hit, The Thrill Is Gone. The hits and concerts kept coming, so he began to become a record-breaking singer as well, being the first bluesman to tour the Soviet Union in 1979 and also the first to make inroads into pop, with regular appearances in Las Vegas. , Nevada and on television. He even opened for the Rolling Stones.
BB King also found commercial success with the numerous collaborations he made throughout his career with artists such as Eric Clapton, Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison, and Bonnie Raittvocal cord
Over the years, he developed one of the most identifiable guitar styles in the world. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating their precise and complex vocal chord curves and left-hand vibration, which became indispensable components of any rock guitarist’s vocabulary. “When I sing, I play in my mind; the moment I stop singing, I start doing it playing Lucille ”, he would say.
In 1987, King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and became one of the most respected artists in music. Throughout his career he received 15 Grammy Awards for Music and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. The legendary singer and guitarist also became the subject of his own museum, which opened in 2008.
The BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi, are dedicated to King’s music, the music that influenced him, and the musical history of the area where he lived. That same year, in 2008, King released his album From Him One Kind of Favor to critical acclaim. In February 2012 King played a special concert at the White House with Buddy Guy and other artists accompanied by President Barack Obama on the song Sweet home Chicago.
His health deteriorated and after a concert in April 2014 his fans expressed their concern about King on social networks saying that he seemed to be suffering from an illness due to his performance. After that show, the blues issued a public apology for his erratic performance.
However, in October of that year, the 89-year-old artist fell on stage during a performance in Chicago and canceled several concerts. A statement released after the fall said the singer had been “diagnosed as dehydrated and suffering from exhaustion.”
BB King died in his sleep on May 14, 2015 at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving an unfathomable musical legacy. On May 27, thousands of fans witnessed a funeral procession on Beale Street (Memphis), the street that gave him his nickname, in honor of the blues . King was buried in Indianola, Mississippi, his hometown, three days after his funeral on May 30.
Married twice, BB King has 5 children, some of them adopted. His favorite singer was Frank Sinatra, to the point that in his autobiography, the king of blues talks about how he was a “Sinatra fanatic” and went to bed every night listening to his classic album In the wee little hours . King was always very grateful to Sinatra for opening the doors to black artists, who were not given the opportunity to play in places dominated by whites.
It is also not widely known that BB King had a pilot’s license and was a vegetarian. In the last ten years of his life, King suffered from diabetes and was a visible spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for products to treat it.
BB King was also a proponent of music education for children. In 2002, he was hired by Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free musical lessons and instruments to public school children across the United States.Follow @LibrarySheet