‘King’ of blues dies at age 89

Legendary blues guitarist BB King dies in Las Vegas, aged 89

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Blues legend BB King has died in Las Vegas at age 89, his lawyer has confirmed.

Attorney Brent Bryson told the press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40pm local time (4:40am GMT) on Thursday at his home in Las Vegas.

He brought new fans to the blues and influenced a generation of musicians. He was a role model to many celebrated guitarists including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others.

US President Barack Obama was among the ones expressing their sadness upon King’s death. "The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend," said Obama. “BB may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight."

King’s approach to the music was also embodied with his political stance. He didn’t hold himself back from touching social and political issues. “Being a blues singer is like being black twice," wrote King in his autobiography. "While the civil rights movement was fighting for the respect of black people, I felt I was fighting for the respect of the blues."

It was not only Obama who felt the need to express their condolences, many blues giants had a word to say on King’s death. Buddy Guy, a blues legend from Chicago wrote on Instagram, “The tone he got out of that guitar, the way he shook his left wrist, the way he squeezed the strings... it was all new to the whole guitar playin' world.

“I promise I will keep these damn blues alive."

King played his trademark black Gibson guitars that he affectionately called Lucille, which accompanied him throughout his career and was named in 1949 after a woman who two men fought over in an Arkansas bar.

King sold millions of records worldwide and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He won 15 Grammy Awards during his career and was one of the blues world’s most respected musicians. In 1990, he was awarded the National Medal for the Arts.

TRTWorld and agencies