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Blues Icon B.B. King Dies

LAS VEGAS (CelebrityAccess) — The `King of the Blues` guitarist and singer BB King has died in Las Vegas at the age of 89, according to his lawyer.

King was counted as one of the most influential blues guitarists in the history of the modern music, recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine as number three on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, just below Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman.

King, known for hits such as Lucille, Sweet Black Angel and Rock Me Baby, and The Thrill is Gone, produced 43 studio albums over the course of his long career. He was recognized with sixteen Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award in 1987. He was also a recipient of a National Medal of Arts, a National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kennedy Center Honors and is a member of both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

A native of Mississippi, King began performing in the 1940s, signing his first recording contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records, where he released his first #1 hit in 1952 with "3 O'Clock Blues."

King toured extensively, working the "Chitlin' circuit" as well as major venues in markets such as New York and Washington and In 1956, King performed an astonishing 342 concerts as well as three recording sessions.

In the 1960s, King became a major figure in the blues revival, touring with bands such as The Rolling Stones, whom he opened for, as well as performing at venues such as Bill Graham’s Fillmore West and the Newport Folk Festival.

In the 1990s, King opened a chain of blues clubs, starting with the B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street in Memphis, followed other outlets in Los Angeles and New York and most recently Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

King continued to tour extensively, averaging over 250 concerts a year, even though he was in his eighties. However, last October, King canceled the remaining dates on his tour after falling ill during an Oct. 3rd show in Chicago with what was reported as complications of diabetes. King lived with type II diabetes for more than 2 decades and became a prominent spokesperson against the disease.

"The name B.B King has been synonymous with the blues for more than 50 years. A 15-time GRAMMY winner and 1987 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, B.B. pioneered the electric blues as we know it today, and his prolific career has left an indelible mark on music and our culture. Undoubtedly one of the most influential and hardest working musicians of our time, his remarkable legacy will continue to inspire many generations to come. We have lost a true American treasure, and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans around the world who have been entertained by his magnificent work," Neil Portnow president and CEO of The Recording Academy said of King. – Staff Writers