B.B. King Dies at Age 89

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Blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep Thursday night at the age of 89.

The "King of the Blues" had struggled with diabetes for some time. He died peacefully in his sleep around 9:40 Pacific Time in his Las Vegas home, where he was in hospice care, according to his attorney Brent Bryson.

King was born in Mississippi, but he later called Memphis home. He rose to fame in the 1950s, and he's since won more than a dozen Grammy's. He's also received the high honors of being named to the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. King has recorded more than 50 albums and continued to tour throughout his 80s.

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This morning, Mayor A C Wharton issued the following statement about B.B. King's passing:

"People who don’t follow national politics are familiar with the name of John Kennedy. Those who know nothing about basketball have at least heard of Michael Jordan. There are certain individuals who are absolutely transcendent – their personalities become bigger than the field in which they are best known. Such is the case with B. B. King. Those who never heard or had the blues knew his name.

We have our own Memphis Music Hall of Fame because this city has been foundational in the careers of icons like Elvis Presley, Al Green, Johnny Cash, and Isaac Hayes to name a few. Even among other musical legends, B. B. King was a giant in terms of his influence.

This loss is particularly hurtful for our city because B. B. and Memphis had a longtime love affair. The fact that Beale Street Blues Boy is the origin of the nickname B. B. is the type of authentic connection that will never die.

It is altogether fitting that we will mark the life of B. B. King on Beale Street this weekend. Some earn titles through elections and others through military conquest. But people all over the world have agreed for many years that B. B. was and will always be the KING OF THE BLUES – a title earned through music and performance, not according to his family name.

We will all miss this American icon. But, B. B. King’s legacy and music will live on."


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