When B.B. King passed away last night in Las Vegas, history lost one of its last great bluesmen. King was an active and vital part of music’s evolution since the 1940’s, playing with and influencing the likes of Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and U2.
The Mississippi native became the face of the blues in his later years, touring relentlessly in spite of his age. He was charismatic, approachable, and unforgettable until the end: a B.B. King solo was immediately recognized for his sharp, clear picking style and full-hearted phrasing. Even last year, at 88, King was playing sold-out shows across the country. He fell ill in October, the result of a long battle with diabetes.
King was a pioneer in bringing the blues to rock music and often collaborated across genres. Artists from all walks of music commemorate The King on social media as news of his passing spread:
Over the course of his decades-long career, B.B. piled up 15 Grammy awards, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kennedy Center Honors, and induction into the Blues and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also has his own museum. Rest in peace to one of history’s great guitarists.