B.B. King keeps Blues alive in Mississippi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

B.B. King keeps Blues alive in Mississippi

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The term "living legend" is often overused, but it's arguable accurate when you're talking about Blues icon B.B. King.

The famous Mississippian, born Riley B. King, began his entertainment journey more than 60-years-ago. His signature style has influenced the likes of rock legends Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

The man who folks in Memphis called the Beale Street Blues Boy, then shortened to "B. B.," evolved to thrill audiences all over the world, audiences that include royalty and presidents. In 2012, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a celebration of Blues. B.B. King was a featured performer, even encouraging the president to sing along.

B.B. King continues to rub elbows with the rich and powerful. He and his beloved guitar, Lucille, keep up a performance schedule that would probably challenge the mettle of much younger artists. Yet, the King of Blues always carves time out of his busy schedule to come home to his beloved Mississippi.

"If it wasn't for B.B. King, we wouldn't be able to do what we do. They actually paved the way for us to keep the blues alive," award-winning young blues artist Grady Champion said.

For 33 years now, Indianola has hosted the B.B. King homecoming event and the ambassador of Blues never disappoints his adoring fans, friends and family.

He's 87 now, diabetes has him spending more time in a wheelchair than he'd like, and despite his fame and fortune, B.B. King remains kind, gracious and humble.

"This is home, my home," states King. "Well, I come back because, to me, some of the best people in the world is right here."

Blues history is rich because of B.B. King.

"He's been my friend for about 60 years and I'm proud to have him as my friend. I'm proud to know him. He did a lot for me and with me," said blues great Bobby Rush.

And the present and future of this Mississippi born music called Blues is guaranteed thanks to a Mississippian named B.B. King.

If you've ever wondered why B.B. King's guitar is named Lucille, the story goes that King was playing at an Arkansas dance hall when the building caught fire. King went in to retrieve his beloved first guitar only to learn the next day two men died in the fire, fighting over a woman named Lucille.

So, as a reminder never to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women, all of his guitars since then have been named "Lucille."

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