Riley B. King, known by the stage name B.B. King, is an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and guitar playing.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at #3 on its list of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time". According to Edward M. Komara, King "introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed." King has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
King was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, a small town near Indianola, Mississippi. His parents were Alfred King and Nora Ella King. King grew up singing in a gospel choir. At age 12 he bought his first guitar for $15.00. In 1943 King left Indianola to work as a tractor driver.
In 1946 King followed his cousin Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months. However, King shortly returned to Mississippi, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit, and returned to Memphis two years later. Initially he worked at the local R&B radio station WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, where he gained the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "B.B." It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. "Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have myself. 'Had' to have one, short of stealing!", he said.