BB King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 in (Itta Bena)Indianola, Mississippi. King spent much of his childhood sharing time living with his mother and his grandmother and working as a sharecropper and hired hand.
At an early age, King developed a love for blues guitarists like T-Bone Walker and Lonnie Johnson and jazz artists like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Soon King was cultivating his own musical skills singing Gospel music in church. In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. During the performance, two men began to fight, knocking over a burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. This triggered an evacuation. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside the burning building. He entered the blaze to retrieve his guitar, a Gibson acoustic. The next day, King discovered that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille, so he named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every one he owned since that near-fatal experience.
King began broadcasting his music live on Memphis radio station WDIA, he used the name "The Pepticon Boy" which later became the "Beale Street Blues Boy". The name was then shortened to just Blues Boy and, eventually, simply "B.B." .
In the 1950s, King became one of the most important names in R&B music, collecting an impressive list of hits under his belt that included songs like "You Know I Love You", "Woke Up This Morning", "Please Love Me", "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer", "Whole Lotta' Love" , "Every Day I Have the Blues", "Sneakin' Around" ,"Ten Long Years", "Bad Luck", "Sweet Little Angel", "On My Word of Honor" and "Please Accept My Love".
King first found success outside of the blues market with the 1969 remake of the Roy Hawkins tune, "The Thrill Is Gone" , which became a hit on both pop and R&B charts, which was rare for an R&B artist. He gained further rock visibility as an opening act on The Rolling Stones much-ballyhooed 1969 American Tour. King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love". From 1951 to 1985, King appeared on Billboard's R&B charts an amazing 74 times. MP3: The Thrill is gone