Photo by Owen Sweeney / Rex
BB King, known as “King of the Blues,” has died at the age of 89.
The legendary singer and guitarist passed away in his sleep in Las Vegas after having suffered from a diabetes-related illness.
Born in Mississippi, King began playing in the 1940s and was later known for his hits “My Lucille,” “Sweet Little Angel” and “Rock Me Baby.”
BB played with and mentored dozens of artists, such as U2, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.
“I want to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years, and for the friendship that we enjoyed,” Clapton said in a video tribute on Facebook.
“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 who play it in the pure way that BB did. He was a beacon for all of us who love this kind of music.”
Over the course of his illustrious career, BB won 15 Grammys and continued to perform well into his 80s.
“I’ve always tried to defend the idea that the blues doesn’t have to be sung by a person who comes from Mississippi, as I did,” he said in the 1988 book “Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music.”
“People all over the world have problems,” he said. “And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die.”