On Thursday, May 14 at 9:40 p.m. PST, B.B. King died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas. The blues musician was 89 years old. Although the exact cause is still unknown, King’s death was reported on his website, on a page using the URL from his 1970s hit, “The Thrill Is Gone.” He is survived by 11 children.
B.B. King’s Prolific Career and $10 Million Net Worth
B.B., which stood for Blues Boy, was born Riley King. He performed approximately 200 to 300 shows a year, starting in the late 1950s all the way until the 2000s, reports The New York Times. King’s style of music inspired other rock legends, like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and helped bring blues into the mainstream.
King, who grew up in Bena, Miss., got his first break in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio show in Memphis. He then became a popular DJ at WDIA, where he adopted the radio name “Beale Street Blues Boy,” which became “Blues Boy King” and finally just “B.B. King.”
In December 1951, King released “Three O’Clock Blues,” which was a No. 1 hit on the rhythm-and-blues charts. According to Billboard, “The Thrill Is Gone,” “I Like to Live the Love,” “To Know You Is To Love You,” “Ain’t Nobody Home” and “Rock Me Baby” were among King’s top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits. According to CelebrityNetWorth, King reportedly had a net worth of $10 million.
On top of 15 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award, King has a star on Hollywood Boulevard. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the Blues Hall of Fame. According to the Guardian, King performed at the White House in 2012, and President Obama joined him for a duet of “Sweet Home Chicago.” In light of King’s death, Obama said in a statement, “The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King … became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world.”
He added, “B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight.”
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