For more than half a century, Riley B. King – better known as B.B. King – has defined the blues for a worldwide audience. Since he started recording in the 1940s, he has released over 50 albums, many of them time-honored classics.
Mississippi-born King played on street corners for dimes in his youth, sometimes playing in as many as four towns a night. In 1947, he hitchhiked to Memphis, TN, to pursue his music career and the rest is blues history.
King’s first big break came in 1948 when he performed on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program on KWEM out of West Memphis. His first #1 R&B hit was “Three O’clock Blues” in 1951. Since then, he’s produced such classics as “Payin’ the Cost to Be the Boss,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” How Blue Can You Get,” “Everyday I Have the Blues,” and “Why I Sing the Blues.” Over the years, the Grammy Award-winner scored another #1 hit with 1952’s “You Don’t Know Me,” and four #2 R&B hits, 1953′s “Please Love Me,” 1954′s “You Upset Me Baby,” 1960′s “Sweet Sixteen, Part I,” and 1966′s “Don’t Answer The Door, Part I.” B.B.’s most popular crossover hit, 1970′s “The Thrill Is Gone,” went to #15 on the pop charts.
B.B. was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He received NARAS’ Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1987, and has received honorary doctorates from Tougaloo (MS) College in 1973; Yale University in 1977; Berklee College of Music in 1982; Rhodes College of Memphis in 1990 and Mississippi Valley State University in 2002. In 1992, he received the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi.
In 1991, B.B. King’s Blues Club opened on Beale Street in Memphis, and in 1994, a second club was launched at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles. A third club in New York City’s Times Square opened in June 2000 and most recently two clubs opened at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in January 2002. In 1996, B.B.’s autobiography, “Blues All Around Me” (written with David Ritz for Avon Books) was published.
Contemporary and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy was a chief guitar influence to rock titans like Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, and Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound and a living link to that city’s halcyon days of electric blues.
Guy has received five Grammy Awards, 23 W.C. Handy Blues Awards (the most any artist has received), Billboard’s Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement and the Presidential National Medal of Arts.
Born in 1936 to a sharecropper’s family and raised on a plantation near the small town of Lettsworth, Louisiana, George “Buddy” Guy was one of five children born to Sam and Isabel Guy. By late 1955, Guy’s heart and mind were already firmly attached to the guitar and the blues sounds he heard emanating from the radio.
Around 1957, Guy had taken up residency in Chicago’s fabled 708 Club. By the early 1960s, Guy was a first-call session man at Chess Records backing up the likes of Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson. One landmark recording with Waters, Folk Singer, was cut in September of 1963 and released in the spring of 1964. In addition, Guy began to cut a considerable catalog of sides under his own name. By the end of the 1960s, he was staking out new creative territory, cutting albums like 1967′s I Left My Blues in San Francisco and 1968′s A Man and the Blues. Guy’s stinging, attacking electric guitar style and wild, impassioned vocals, was capturing the minds of a growing number of rock musicians.
The were no fewer than 20 releases under Guy’s name during the 1970s and ’80s, the best of them collaborations with the late harp master Junior Wells. In 1991, his comeback smash Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues (reissued in 2005), 1993′s Feels Like Rain, and 1994′s Slippin’ In all earned Grammy Awards.
Subsequent releases include Live: The Real Deal (1996), Heavy Love (1998) and Sweet Tea (2001). Bring ‘Em In (2005), found Guy trading licks with the likes of Carlos Santana and John Mayer on a set featuring covers of classic soul songs.
Guy’s latest release is Skin Deep (2008) that features such younger players as pedal steel virtuoso Robert Randolph and husband-and-wife guitar slingers Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.
Tickets cost $90, $75, $60 & $45*; all seats are reserved and available at the Hard Rock Live Box Office, open Monday – Saturday from noon to 7pm and on Sunday – only open on event days at noon. Tickets also are available at all Ticketmaster outlets online at www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone: 1-800-745-3000. Doors open one-hour prior to show start time. *Additional fees may apply.