Mr. King played a guitar he affectionately called “Lucille,” and with his soulful voice, heartfelt lyrics, and scorching guitar licks became a mentor to dozens of musicians.
One of those he acted as a mentor to was British blues guitar legend Eric Clapton, who said of his mentor, “I want to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years, and for the friendship that we enjoyed. There’s not a lot left to say because this music is almost a thing of the past now, and there are not many left to play in the pure way that B.B. did. He was a beacon for all of us who loved this kind of music. If you’re not familiar with his work, I would encourage you to go out and find an album called ‘B.B. King: Live at the Regal,’ which is where it started for me as a young player.”
Mr. King was raised by his grandmother after his parents separated and his mother died. At 7 he picked cotton, drove tractors, and dropped out of school in grade 10.
Shirley King, one of the 11 of his 15 surviving biological children said, “I didn’t get a chance to hug my daddy and tell him goodbye.”