Blues legend B.B. King dies at age 89
Riley B. King, the legendary guitarist known as B.B. King, whose velvety voice and economical, expressive style brought blues from the margins to the mainstream, died Thursday night. He was 89. His daughter, Patty King, said he died in Las Vegas, where he announced two weeks ago that he was in home hospice care after suffering from dehydration. Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.
“I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions”, Mr. King said in his autobiography, “Blues All Around Me” (1996), written with David Ritz.
In performances, his singing and his solos flowed into each other as he wrung notes from the neck of his guitar, vibrating his hand as if it were wounded, his face a mask of suffering. Many of the songs he sang — like his biggest hit, “The Thrill Is Gone” (“I’ll still live on/But so lonely I’ll be”) — were poems of pain and perseverance.