B. B. King
Privacy Level: Open (White)

Riley Ben King (1925 - 2015)

Riley Ben [uncertain] (B. B.) King
Born in Berclair, Leflore County, Mississippi, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Father of [private daughter (1940s - unknown)]
Died in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, United Statesmap
Profile manager: Tom Shaw private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 15 Sep 2014 | Last significant change: 8 May 2021
19:45: W Robertson edited the Biography for Riley Ben King (1925-2015). (added category) [Thank W for this]
This page has been accessed 2,014 times.


Notables Project
B. B. King is Notable.
US Black Heritage Project
B. B. King is a part of US Black heritage.

Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 outside of the unincorporated community of Berclair in LeFlore County, Mississippi. He is the son of Albert and Nora (Farr) King. In 1930, after his father left their family and his mother was remarried, Riley went to live with his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi. At the age of 12, he bought his first guitar. Six years later, he left Kilmichael to join the Famous St. John's Gospel Singers, headquartered in Inverness, Mississippi, as their lead singer and guitarist.

Eventually, after realizing that the other members of the quartet were not interested in pursuing a career in music, Riley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he lived for a time with his mother's first cousin, Booker T.W. 'Bukka" White, a well-known blues recording artist. After a brief return to Mississippi, he came back to Memphis in 1948, where he began performing in nightclubs and working as a disc jockey at radio station WDIA. His notoriety grew as he garnered the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy" (many of Memphis' most popular blues venues are located on Beale Street), which was eventually shortened to "Blues Boy", and then finally to the initials, "B.B."

In 1949, B.B. King signed his first recording contract with Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records, and started his first band, the B.B. King Review. During a show at a dance hall in Arkansas that winter, a fire forced everyone to evacuate. After exiting the building, B.B. realized that his favorite guitar, a hollow-bodied Gibson electric, was still inside, so he went back in to save it. When he found out the next day that the fire had started because two members of the audience were fighting over a woman, he decided that from then on, all of his guitars would carry her name, Lucille, to remind himself never to do something as stupid as running back into a burning building to save a replaceable guitar.

With 60+ years of concerts and recordings to back up the claim, B.B.'s signature guitar licks and soulful voice have deservedly earned him the title as the "King of the Blues". He was inducted into the Blues Music Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Although B.B. was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in the early 1990s, he maintained an active schedule of recording and touring for over 20 more years.

He was forced to cancel the remaining eight shows of his 2014 tour due to deteriorating health, and retreated back to is home in Las Vagas, Nevada. On May 1, 2015, he was admitted to hospice care in Las Vegas, and two weeks later, he died in his sleep on May 14, 2015 from a series of small strokes. Although B.B. is survived by his longtime friend and musical companion, Lucille, the thrill is gone. :(


  • Wikipedia article, B.B. King, accessed 15 Sep 2014.[1]
  • Mississippi Blues Trail, WGRM Radio Studio, accessed 15 Sep 2014. [2]
  • B.B. King on Find A Grave: Memorial #146489606 Retrieved 25 sep 2016.
  • This WikiTree profile is referenced from Wikidata: Item Q188969, en:Wikipedia help.gif

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Is B. B. your relative? Please don't go away!
 star icon Login to collaborate or comment, or
 star icon contact private message the profile manager, or
 star icon ask our community of genealogists a question.
Sponsored Search by Ancestry.com

No known carriers of B. B.'s DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 1
B. B. King Image 1
B. B. King Image 1

Sponsored by Ancestry ®

Family History Search.


Enter a grandparent's name. Just one grandparent can lead you to many discoveries.


Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.