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B.B. King

His reign as King of the Blues has been as long as that of any monarch on earth. Yet B.B. King continues to wear his crown well. At age 76, he is still light on his feet, singing and playing the blues with relentless passion. Time has no apparent effect on B.B., other than to make him more popular, more cherished, more relevant than ever. Don't look for him in some kind of semi-retirement; look for him out on the road, playing for people, popping up in a myriad of T.V. commercials, or laying down tracks for his next album. B.B. King is as alive as the music he plays, and a grateful world can't get enough of him.

For more than half a century, Riley B. King - better known as B.B. King - has defined the blues for a worldwide audience. Since he started recording in the 1940s, he has released over fifty albums, many of them classics. He was born September 16, 1925, on a plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi, near Indianola. In his youth, he played on street corners for dimes, and would sometimes play in as many as four towns a night. In 1947, he hitchhiked to Memphis, TN, to pursue his music career. Memphis was where every important musician of the South gravitated, and which supported a large musical community where every style of African American music could be found. B.B. stayed with his cousin Bukka White, one of the most celebrated blues performers of his time, who schooled B.B. further in the art of the blues.

B.B.'s first big break came in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM out of West Memphis. This led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis, and later to a ten-minute spot on black-staffed and managed Memphis radio station WDIA. "King's Spot," became so popular, it was expanded and became the "Sepia Swing Club." Soon B.B. needed a catchy radio name. What started out as Beale Street Blues Boy was shortened to Blues Boy King, and eventually B.B. King.

In the mid-1950s, while B.B. was performing at a dance in Twist, Arkansas, a few fans became unruly. Two men got into a fight and knocked over a kerosene stove, setting fire to the hall. B.B. raced outdoors to safety with everyone else, then realized that he left his beloved $30 acoustic guitar inside, so he rushed back inside the burning building to retrieve it, narrowly escaping death. When he later found out that the fight had been over a woman named Lucille, he decided to give the name to his guitar to remind him never to do a crazy thing like fight over a woman. Ever since, each one of B.B.'s trademark Gibson guitars has been called Lucille.

Soon after his number one hit, "Three O'Clock Blues," B.B. began touring nationally. In 1956, B.B. and his band played an astonishing 342 one-night stands. From the chitlin circuit with its small-town cafes, juke joints, and country dance halls to rock palaces, symphony concert halls, universities, resort hotels and amphitheaters, nationally and internationally, B.B. has become the most renowned blues musician of the past 40 years.

Over the years, B.B. has developed one of the world's most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of rock guitarist's vocabulary. His economy, his every-note-counts phrasing, has been a model for thousands of players, from Eric Clapton and George Harrison to Jeff Beck. B.B. has mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound. In B.B.'s words, "When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille."

In 1968, B.B. played at the Newport Folk Festival and at Bill Graham's Fillmore West on bills with the hottest contemporary rock artists of the day who idolized B.B. and helped to introduce him to a young white audience. In 1969, B.B. was chosen by the Rolling Stones to open 18 American concerts for them; Ike and Tina Turner also played on 18 shows.

B.B. was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He received NARAS' Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1987, and has received honorary doctorates from Tougaloo(MS) College in 1973; Yale University in 1977; Berklee College of Music in 1982; Rhodes College of Memphis in 1990 and Mississippi Valley State University in 2002. In 1992, he received the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi.

In 1991, B.B. King's Blues Club opened on Beale Street in Memphis, and in 1994, a second club was launched at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles. A third club in New York City's Times Square opened in June 2000 and most recently two clubs opened at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in January 2002. In 1996, the CD-Rom On The Road With B.B. King: An Interactive Autobiography was released to rave reviews. Also in 1996, B.B.'s autobiography, "Blues All Around Me" (written with David Ritz for Avon Books) was published. In a similar vein, Doubleday published "The Arrival of B.B. King" by Charles Sawyer, in 1980.

B.B. continues to tour extensively, averaging over 250 concerts per year around the world. Classics such as "Payin' The Cost To Be The Boss," "The Thrill Is Gone," How Blue Can You Get," "Everyday I Have The Blues," and "Why I Sing The Blues" are concert (and fan) staples. Over the years, the Grammy Award-winner has had two #1 R&B hits, 1951's "Three O'Clock Blues," and 1952's "You Don't Know Me," and four #2 R&B hits, 1953's "Please Love Me," 1954's "You Upset Me Baby," 1960's "Sweet Sixteen, Part I," and 1966's "Don't Answer The Door, Part I." B.B.'s most popular crossover hit, 1970's "The Thrill Is Gone," went to #15 pop.

B.B. KING ADDENDUM OF AWARDS & APPEARANCES

HONORARY DOCTORATES

2002 Mississippi Valley State University
1990 Rhodes College (Memphis) (D. Fine Arts)
1982 Berklee College of Music (Boston) (D. Music)
1977 Yale University (D. Music)
1973 Tougaloo College (Mississippi) (L.H.D)

GOLD RECORDS

1998 Best of B.B. King (released 1973)
1998 Deuces Wild (released 1997)

PLATINUM RECORDS

2000 Deuces Wild (released 1997)
2000 Riding With The King (B.B. King with Eric Clapton, released 2000)

HONORARIUMS

1995 Kennedy Center Honors
1991 National Award of Distinction - University of Mississippi
1991 National Heritage Fellowship - National Endowment of the Arts
1990 Presidential Medal of the Arts, presented by President George Bush Founding Member, John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center Co-founder, Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Recreation and Rehabilitation (F.A.I.R.R.)

W.C. HANDY AWARDS (Blues Foundation)

2002 Entertainer of the Year
2000 Blues Entertainer of the Year - B.B. King
1999 Blues Entertainer of the Year - B.B. King
1999 Contemporary Blues Album of the Year - Blues on the Bayou
1991 Blues Band of the Year - The B.B. King Orchestra
1988 Keeping the Blues Alive (Radio) - The B.B. King Radio Hour
1987 Keeping the Blues Alive (Radio) - The B.B. King Blues Hour
1985 Hall of Fame Classics of Blues Recordings (Single Recording, Including Album Tracks)
1983 Hall of Fame Classics of Blues Recordings (Albums) - Live at the Regal "The Thrill Is Gone"

MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS

1988/89 Best Video From a Film, "When Love Comes To Town" from Rattle & Hum, U2 With B.B. King

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RECORDING ARTS & SCIENCES

2000 New York Heroes Award N.A.A.C.P. IMAGE AWARDS
1999 Image Awards Hall of Fame
1993 Best Blues Artists
1981 Best Blues Artist
1975 Best Blues Artist

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK OWNED BROADCASTERS (NABOB)

1997 Pioneer in Music Award

TRUMPET AWARDS (TURNER BROADCASTING SYSTEM)

1997 Living Legend Award

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR CAMPUS ACTIVITIES AWARDS

1986 Blues Act of the Year NATRA GOLDEN MIKE AWARD
1974 Best Blues Singer of the Year
1969 Best Blues Singer of the Year

FRENCH ACADEMIE du JAZZ AWARD

1969 Best Album of the Year, Lucille

GRAMMY AWARDS

2002 Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Auld Lang Syne"
2002 Best Traditional Blues Album for "A Christmas Celebration of Hope"
2000 Best Pop Collaboration, "Is You Is, Or Is you Ain't (My Baby)" (with Dr. John )
2000 Best Traditional Blues Album, Riding With The King (with Eric Clapton)
1999 Best Traditional Blues Recording, Blues on the Bayou
1996 Best Rock Instrumental Performance, "SRV Shuffle" (with Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Art Neville) from A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan
1993 Best Traditional Blues Recording, Blues Summit
1991 Best Traditional Blues Recording, Live at the Apollo
1990 Best Traditional Blues Recording, Live at San Quentin
1985 Best Traditional Blues Recording, My Guitar Sings the Blues, a track from Six Silver Strings
1983 Best Traditional Blues Recording, Blues & Jazz
1981 Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording, There Must Be A Better World Somewhere
1970 Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Male, "The Thrill Is Gone"
B.B. King has been nominated for 20 Grammy Awards through 1999. In 1970, King's Indianola Mississippi Seeds won a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, an art director's award. 1969's "The Thrill Is Gone" was installed in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

HALLS OF FAME

1999 N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards Hall of Fame
1995 Performance Magazine touring Hall of Fame
1987 Rock & and Roll Hall of Fame
1980 Blues Foundation Hall of Fame

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

2001 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
1998 MOBO Awards (London) Lifetime Achievement Award
1997 The Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
1991 The Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award (Gibson Guitar)
1990 Songwriters' Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award
1987 Grammy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award

HUMANITARIAN AWARDS

1973 B'Nai Brith Humanitarian Award, Music and Performance Lodge of New York

WALKS OF FAME

1991 Hollywood Walk of Fame (Between Milton Berle and Vivian Leigh)
1989 Amsterdam (Holland) Walk of Fame
1989 Rock Walk

DOWNBEAT

1999 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Poll)
1999 Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1997 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Poll)
1996 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Guide)
1996 Blues/Soul/Rhythm and Blues Group (Readers Poll)
1995 Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1994 Blues Album of the Year (Blues Summit) (International Critics Poll)
1994 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Poll)
1994 Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1994 Blues/Soul/R & B Album of the Year (Blues Summit) (Readers Poll)
1994 Blues/Soul/R & B Musician of the Year (Readers Poll)
1994 Blues/Soul/R & B Group of the Year (Readers Poll)
1993 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Poll)
1993 Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1993 Blues/Soul/R & B Musician of the Year (Readers Poll)
1993 Blues/Soul/R & B Group (Readers Poll)
1992 Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1992 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Poll)
1991 Blues Artist of the Year (International Critics Poll)
1991 Blues/Soul/R & B Musician of the Year (Readers Poll)
1990 Blues/Soul/R & B Musician of the Year (Readers Poll)
1975 Best Rock/Pop/Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1974 Best Rock/Pop/Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1973 Best Rock/Pop/Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1972 Best Rock/Pop/Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1971 Best Rock/Pop/Blues Group (International Critics Poll)
1970 Best Rock/Pop/Blues Group (International Critics Poll)

EBONY

1975 Best Blues Album, To Know You Is To Love You
1975 Best Blues Instrumentalist
1975 Best Male Blues Singer
1974 Best Blues Album, Live at the Regal
1974 Best Blues Instrumentalist
1974 Best Male Blues Singer
1974 Blues Hall of Fame

ORVILLE M. GIBSON GUITAR AWARD

1997 Best Blues Guitarist - Male
1996 Best Blues Guitarist - Male

LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE READER'S AWARDS

1997 Most Outstanding Blues Singer
1996 Most Outstanding Blues Singer
1994 Most Outstanding Blues Singer
1993 Most Outstanding Blues Singer

LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE CRITIC'S POLL

1996 Most Outstanding Blues Singer (Tied with Little Milton)
1994 Blues Artist of the Year
1993 Best Cover Art Photo (B.B. King of the Blues)

GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE (RETIRED AFTER 5 WINS)

1974 Blues Guitarist of the Year
1973 Blues Guitarist of the Year
1972 Blues Guitarist of the Year
1971 Blues Guitarist of the Year
1970 Blues Guitarist of the Year

PERFORMANCE MAGAZINE READERS POLL
1988 Blues Act of the Year
1987 Blues Act of the Year
1985 Blues Act of the Year

MELODY MAKER

1973 Best Blues Artist of the Year (World Section)

BLUES UNLIMITED

1973 Best Blues Guitarist

JAZZ & POP

1968 Best Male Jazz Singer of the Year

TV APPEARANCES

Sanford & Son
The Cosby Show
Married With Children
Teech
Blossom
General Hospital
Baywatch Nights
New York Undercover
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
CNN's Pinnacle

FILM APPEARANCES

Shake, Rattle & Roll
When We Were Kings
Heart & Souls
The Bluesman
Run of Hearts
Spies Like Us

Adventures in Babysitting

TV COMMERCIALS

XM Satellite Radio
Lifescan - One Touch
Northwest Airlines
Wendy's
M & M's
Greyhound
Texaco

RADIO COMMERCIALS

Budweiser
Sears

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS

B.B. King Blues Master I
B.B. King Blues Master II
B.B. King Blues Master III
Country and Blues Harmonica for the Absolute Beginner

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

1996 Blues All Around Me by B.B. King with David Ritz (Avon)

BIOGRAPHY

1980 The Arrival of B.B. King: the Authorized Biography by Charles Sawyer (Doubleday)

VIDEOGRAPHY

Pavarotti & Friends (1999)
A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan (1997)
B.B. King and Friends - A Night of Red Hot Blues
Blues Summit Concert (1995)
Live at Nicks (1983)
Live at the Apollo (1992)
Live from Atlantic City (1990)
Live in Africa
Bluesmasters - The Essential History of the Blues, Vol. 2
Bluesland
International Blues Festival (1975)
James Brown and His Very Special Guest B.B. King (1983)
Rhythm Country & Blues
Yackety Yack, Take It Back

BLUES MUSIC FESTIVAL TOURS

1992 B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and the Fabulous Thunderbirds
1993 B.B. King, Eric Johnson, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells/Lonnie Brooks/Koko Taylor
1994 B.B. King, Little Feat, Dr. John and Tribute to Muddy Waters
1995 B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughn, Etta James and Blues Time (J. Geils, Magic Dick, Elvin Bishop)
1996 B.B. King, The Neville Brothers, Delbert McClinton, Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Sheppard
1997 B.B. King, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, Tower of Power, Blues Time (J. Geils, Magic Dick), Jonny Lang
1998 B.B. King, Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Storyville, Susan Tedeschi
1999 B.B. King, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tower of Power, Indigenous, J. Geils, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray
2000 B. B. King, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Tommy Castro, Corey Harris

SPECIAL APPEARANCES

2000 National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the White House (PBS)
1999 Free New Years Eve Millenium Concert Beale Street, Memphis
1999 Liberty Bowl Half Time Performance (Memphis)
1999 Concert of the Century at the White House (VH1)
1999 Blues In Performance at the White House (PBS-TV)
1999 Pavorotti & Friends Benefit for War Child
1998 Named Official Ambassador of Music at the World Expo '98 in Lisbon, Portugal
1997 Vatican Christmas Concert
1996 B.B. King Performs at Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA
1996 B.B. King Entertains U.S. Military Troops in Bosnia

B.B. KING WITH VARIOUS ARTISTS

Deuces Wild (1997)
A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan (1997)
Blues Classics (1996)
Rock of Ages: Gibson Guitar Greats (1995)
Living the Blues Masters (1995)
Till the Night is Gone: A Tribute to Doc Pomus (1995)
All Men Are Brothers: Tribute to Curtis Mayfield (1994)
Rhythm Country & Blues (1994)
GRP Christmas Collection Vol. III (1993)
The Simpsons Sing the Blues (1990)

B.B. KING DUETS

B.B. King & Eric Clapton Riding With The King (2000)
Diane Schuur & B.B. King Heart to Heart (1994)
B.B. King & Bobby Bland Together For the First Time...Live (1974)
Bobby Bland & B.B. King Together Again...Live (1976)

SOUNDTRACK ALBUMS

Shake, Rattle & Roll (1999)
Blues Brothers 2000 (1997)
When We Were Kings (1997)
Casino (1995)
Air America (1990)
Into the Night (1985)
Stormy Monday (1988)

CHILDREN'S MUSIC

John Henry (1994)
Rainy Day Blues (1993)

RALPH J. GLEASON MUSIC BOOK AWARDS

1996 Second Prize for Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King by B.B. King and David Ritz

B.B. KING BLUES CLUBS

1991 Beale Street, Memphis, TN
1994 Universal City Walk, Hollywood, CA
2000 42nd Street, New York City

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