B. B. King

by Caitlin from Selden Middle School

"In addition, it is with pleasure that I dedicate this album to City of Hope in support of their hard work to bring hope and healing to all people who suffer from life-threatening diseases everywhere."
B.B. King
B.B. King

A hero can be anyone who you want it to be. It doesn't have to be the fireman or police officer who saves lots of lives. They are considered heroes, of course, but there are many other categories of heroes. You could have Bethany Hamilton as your hero. Bethany Hamilton is a girl surfer who was attacked by a 14-foot shark. Unfortunately, she had to have her arm amputated. To this very day she is still surfing. She has learned how to adapt to only using one arm. Another type of hero is a musician hero, like B.B. King.

B.B. King's Gibson guitar Lucille
B.B. King's Gibson guitar Lucille

B.B. King was born on September 16, 1925, in Itta Bena, Mississippi. His real name is Riley B. King. Later in his life he adopted the name B.B. King. B.B. King lived with his mother and father who were sharecroppers and had little money. Even though B.B. King had little money he still followed his passion for music. He started to sing in local church groups. His parents separated and his mother and grandmother died when he was very young. This left Riley playing on street corners for dimes. He then joined the Famous St. John's Gospel Singers. He was both a singer and a guitarist.

B.B King playing Lucille
B.B King playing Lucille

For many years B.B. King wanted to visit his cousin Bukka White. He was always too young to go by himself. Since his mother and grandmother died, he did not know what else to do. So he hitchhiked all the way to Memphis in the mid-1940s. There was also another reason that he wanted to go. He really wanted to pursue his music career. At that time Memphis was a spot where you could find every kind of African American music. B.B. King's cousin, Bukka White, was one of the most celebrated blues performers of his time. He schooled B.B. King further through the art of blues music. At that time Bukka White was B.B. King's inspiration.

When B.B. King started to become popular he played in many clubs. In the mid-1950s, at a dance twist, two fans had a conflict and it turned into a fight. During the fight the two men knocked over a kerosene stove. When the stove was knocked over it set the hall on fire. Everybody ran out of the hall. B.B. King went back in to see if anyone needed help and to get his beloved Gibson guitar. He discovered the fight was over a girl named Lucille. At that moment, B.B King decided to name his guitar Lucille as a promise to himself to not fight over a girl, like the two men did at the dance club.

B.B. King has such a unique playing style that he inspired many guitarists like Eric Claption, Keith Richards, George Harrison and Jeff Beck. B.B. King uses lefthand vibrato and has beautiful string bends. This didn't happen over night. This took a lot of practice and hard work. B.B. King started this process at the age of 14. He was always dedicated to playing on his beloved guitar Lucille. He never gave up.

When B.B. King was really starting to get famous on the radio, he needed a cool radio name. He had many nicknames in the past, but this one had to be good because that is what he was going to be called. The orignal name was Beale Street Blues Boy. B.B. King thought that was too long so he shortened it to Blues Boy King. He and his peers also thought that was still too long, so it was finally shortened to B.B. King. B.B King was very happy with his name. It was not too long or too short.

B.B. King and Eric Clapton
B.B. King and Eric Clapton

B.B. King always wanted to have a Christmas album. Now, after five decades, he finally got his dream and more. He said, "It has been my life long dream to produce an album of Christmas music." MCA records is donating all of the profits to The City of Hope. The City of Hope has notable biomedical research and treatment centers that bring lifesaving hope to those that suffer from cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and other catastrophic diseases.

When B.B. King was around 60, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent diabetes). This means that B.B. King's body is making insulin but is not using it correctly. His body is rejecting the insulin. He was first diagnosed in Louisiana. The paramedics tested his blood glucose and it was very high. The normal range for an adult is 80-120. As anyone would be, B.B. King was very concerned. He would have to test his blood glucose (blood sugar) all of the time. This meant that he would have to watch what he ate and take care of himself. B.B. King doesn't smoke, eat sweets, and he is a vegetarian. He was worried if he could ever play the blues again. "These ten fingers are all I got," he said. Luckily for him, he found a testing system in which he could test his blood glucose on his arms. "If I can test my blood sugar without having to hurt myself, well then that's great." Even though B.B King has a rough time with the diabetes, he still goes out and does his concerts and shows. You would never know he is a diabetic until someone told you. So what that he can't eat sweets. He did not let diabetes slow him down one bit. Even now he is still playing his beautiful Gibson guitar and always will be.

Page created on 8/29/2009 8:46:41 PM

Last edited 8/29/2009 8:46:41 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

B.B. King - Diabetes Health
B.B. King
- Read and look at pictures of B.B King on his official web site.
About Diabetes
- Read about diabetes and the treatments.
- Biography on B.B. King
City of Hope - is dedicated to the prevention and cure of cancer and other life-threatening diseases, guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy, and supported by a national foundation of humanitarian philanthropy.

Extra Info

Some of B.B. King's albums are:

King Of Blues
Live at the Regal
Live and Well
Indianola Mississippi Seeds
B.B. King In London
Sing Sing Thanksgiving
Spies Like Us
Live Aid
Amazon Woman On The Moon Heart And Souls When We Were Kings Blues Brothers 2000

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
He won an amazing 13 Grammy Awards!

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