The American guitarist, singer, and blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep yesterday (May 14), according to his website. King, who was 89, posted his last message to fans on his website about two weeks ago:
“I am in home hospice care at my residence in Las Vegas.
Thanks to all for your well wishes and prayers.”
King famously called his guitars Lucille, and used them to produce massive hits such as “The Thrill is Gone.” Many say he is responsible for bringing blues music mainstream in the 1950s and 1960s. He is in both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and won 15 Grammys throughout his career. He continued to tour until the end of last year.
The guitarist and singer Eric Clapton, who collaborated with King and credits him as an inspiration, posted a video on his Facebook page, saying:
“There’s not a lot left to say because this music is almost a thing of the past now, and there are not many left that play it in the pure way that B.B did. He was a beacon for all of us that loved this kind of music and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. If you’re not familiar with his work then I would encourage you to go out and find an album called BB King Live at the Regal, which is where it all started for me as a young player.”
Others shared their thoughts on Twitter and Instagram.
This morning, I come to you all with a heavy heart. BB King was the greatest guy I ever met. The tone he got out of that guitar, the way he shook his left wrist, the way he squeezed the strings… man, he came out with that and it was all new to the whole guitar playin' world. He could play so smooth, he didn't have to put on a show. The way BB did it is the way we all do it now. He was my best friend and father to us all. I'll miss you, B. I love you and I promise I will keep these damn Blues alive. Rest well. All my love, Buddy
Here’s a glimpse of the master at the height of his powers, singing The Thrill is Gone: