The King's Reach: B.B. turns 85 at Telluride Blues & Brews

The King's Reach: B.B. turns 85 at Telluride Blues & Brews

Happy birthday and long live the King. Riley B. King – B.B. to his friends – turns 85 on September 16, just two days before he closes out the 17th annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in high style.

King's expressive signature style of fluid string bending and elegant vibrato has influenced every electric blues guitarist  and singer who followed in his long shadow. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is ranked #3 on Rolling Stone's list of the " 100 greatest guitarists of all time." (Behind Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman.)

Born on a plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi, King bought his first guitar at age 12 for $15. King first topped the R & B charts in 1951 with "Three O'Clock Blues," just four years after he had hitched a ride to Memphis to learn the tricks of the trade from his cousin, renowned bluesman Bukka White. About that time, King performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio show, which led to guest hosting and his own show, "King's spot," on WDIA in Memphis. For his radio gigs, King took on a new handle, "Beale Street Boy King," then "Blues Boy King" or "B.B." for short.

Since his tour with the Rolling Stones, since B.B. King's signature song "The Thrill is Gone" hit the pop charts in 1970, he has played every corner of the globe, performing before presidents, even presenting a guitar to the Pope as the Ambassador and King of the Blues.

Check out the video to remind you why the King's Reach is so far and wide.

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