King is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of the Blues", and one of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" along with Albert King and Freddie King. King was known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s. In 1956, he reportedly appeared at 342 shows.
King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 14, 2015 from complications of Alzheimer's disease along with congestive heart failure and diabetic complications.
- 12-Bar Blues: A traditional blues artist, many of King's songs take on this progression. "Rock Me, Baby" is an example, using the I-IV-I-V-IV-I pattern. "The Thrill is Gone" is a variant, featuring three two-part phrases per chorus, each phrase increasing in register before dropping down to the I chord. (It uses a I-IV-I-V-I pattern.)
- Based on a True Story: Wrote "Lucille" to tell the story of how his beloved guitar got her name.
- Crossover: B.B. King teamed up with Eric Clapton to record the album Riding With The King.
- "Dear John" Letter: "I've Got a Mind to Give Up Living" features the singer's ex leaving a breakup letter in her spot in bed.
- I Call It "Vera": In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. The hall was heated by a barrel half-filled with burning kerosene, a fairly common practice at the time. During a performance, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. The hall burst into flames, and the building was evacuated. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside so he went back into the burning building to retrieve his beloved guitar. King learned the next day that they had been fighting over a woman named Lucille. King named that first guitar Lucille—and subsequently named every guitar he owned since, as a reminder never again to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women.
Many guitars have borne the name Lucille, including Fender Telecasters. He is mostly associated with the Gibson ES-355 and ES-335, but those guitars and variants did not exist until 1958.
- Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: The blues singer was an influential guitarist known for his magical string bending and vibrato.
- Spurned into Suicide: The singer in "I've Got a Mind to Give Up Living" strongly considers suicide after reading a "Dear John" Letter.
- Ungrateful Bastard: "How Blue Can You Get", a blues standard tightly connected to King, is about a woman ungrateful for the everything the singer's done for her. This includes calling their penthouse a shack and wishing they'd never had their seven children.