We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is BB King?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The American blues singer and guitarist known as BB King is legendary. Called The King of the Blues, BB King is known for his powerful music as well as for naming all of his guitars Lucille. His hits include "The Thrill is Gone," "Why I Sing the Blues," and "Woke Up This Morning."

BB King was born Riley B. King on 16 September, 1925 in the Mississippi Delta area of the United States. His father, Albert, was a sharecropping farmer as was his mother, Nora Ella. Riley B. was named after his uncle, but Albert called his son "BB" to mean baby brother because of the mere eighteen year age difference between them. When BB was four years old, his mother left his father and began living with another man. She sent BB to live nearby with his grandmother.

Attending church with his grandmother and mother started BB's interest in music and he learned how to play guitar from the preacher. The young King enjoyed singing and playing guitar in church. As a teen, BB lived with his father for a few years after his mother and grandmother had died. Then he worked at mostly farming related jobs, finding work where he could. He lived with a white family, the Flake-Cartledges, for a while and they helped BB buy his first guitar.

BB formed a singing group with his cousin, Birkett, called The Famous Saint John's Gospel Singers. When the rest of the group was reluctant to pursue careers in music, BB King began singing and playing blues music as a solo performer. He became a huge success in his concert tours and recordings. BB King married twice and didn't have children from either marriage, but did father 15 children with different women out of wedlock. BB King won many awards including seven Grammy awards, Kennedy Center honors and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The reason for King naming all of his guitars, Lucille, dates back to the 1940s when he was playing concert gigs in dance halls. The halls were often heated with kerosene and one night, in a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas, two men started fighting, knocking over a barrel of lit kerosene. The result was terrible fire that killed two people. BB took a risk by going back in to save his guitar and when he found out that the men had been fighting over some woman named Lucille, he chose to name his guitars that to remind him to never risk his life like that again.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By chrisinbama — On Mar 05, 2011

I had heard another version of how B.B. got his nickname -- the story goes like this.

In 1948, B.B. got his first break when he had the opportunity to perform on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program. It aired on KWEM in West Memphis. This led to B.B. having a ten-minute spot on WDIA. It became known as “King’s Spot”. It was so popular that it expanded and became the “Sepia Swing Club”. B.B. was becoming very popular and knew that he needed a catchy name.

He started out as “Beale Street Blues Boy”. That name was shortened to “Blues Boy King”. Then, from that, came “B.B. King”.

I guess there are lots of rumors about his name though -- does anybody know if B.B. himself ever said how he got his name?

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.