At last, the King of Blues has finally return home to his native Mississippi home. But this one, is FINAL. After countless shows across the world and meeting so many people that include presidents and a pope and winning countless of awards, the legendary blues singer and guitarist B.B. King has come to the final spot of his journey to be lay buried.
On Friday morning of May-29, 2015, his body was laid out, in a purple satin shirt and a floral tuxedo jacket, flanked by two black Gibson guitars, and two Mississippi Highway Patrol officers who stood heads cast downward at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, in Indianola. Fans lined up to view his open casket.
Earlier on May-27, his body was flown to Memphis. The funeral procession led down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”, as mourners called out “BB”. Rodd Bland, son of the late blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland, carried the latest iteration of King’s famous guitar “Lucille.” Thousands lined the streets to pay their last respects. His body was then driven down Route 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.
And finally on May-30, 2015, the funeral was held at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola, Mississippi. He was buried at the museum.
This ends the chapter of yet another greatest legend in history of music, especially in the history of blues.
Born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 on a cotton plantation called Berclair, near the town of Itta Benna, Mississippi. The son of sharecroppers Mr. King rose to fame with his first album in 1956 titled “Singing the Blues”.
He has earned the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and also as one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King).
According to various sources, Mr. King have cancelled the remaining eight shows of his 2014 tour because of health problems, He announced on October 8, 2014, that he was back at home to recuperate. On May 1, 2015, after two hospitalizations caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes, King announced on his website that he was in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died in his sleep on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89 from a series of small strokes caused by Type 2 diabetes.
Many artists have shared their condolences. Famous blues singer and guitarist Eric Clapton spoke in a video conference saying that “I would like to express my sadness and to say thank you to B.B. King. I would like to thank him for all the inspirations and encourage me as a player for over the years and for the friendship that we have enjoyed.”
Another notable musician Carlos Santana have expressed his condolences and gratitude by the following facebook status,
“Chairman of the board is home!!
All the kings are celebrating
the gathering of the elegance and excellence
In the ocean of the blues kingdom
All and many more
In the King family
Are welcoming the one
That made the blues SUPREME
We offer you our total gratitude
Jimi Hendrix Stevie Ray
Otis Rush Magic Sam Buddy Guy
Eric Clapton Jeff Beck Jimmy Page
Michael Bloomfield Peter Green Javier Batiz
All of US and many more
We are your children disciples students followers
And lovers of your most beautiful notes
You showed us the way to the heart soul spirit
With every note you told stories of grace and beauty
Enjoy being in the fullness of our lord supreme
Enjoy the effulgent light that you are
GOD bless you and embrace you
MR BB KING
Mr. King has won many awards including 15 Grammies. He was given Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, and A Grammy Hall of Fame Award was given to the song “The Thrill is Gone” in 1998.
Many others have expressed their condolences and gratitude towards the artist during his funeral.
“B.B.’s been in my life, in my father’s life, in my mother’s life,” said McClinton Samuels, 72, a retired corrections officer from New Orleans. “He was one of the best I’ve ever heard.”
“He didn’t go into a lot of detail here about his treatment by white folks,” said Carver A. Randle, 73, an African-American lawyer who represented Mr. King locally. “He wanted to heal people through his music. He wanted the people of his hometown to get together. And he wanted to be a part of that.”
Apart from these, there were rumors started flying. Two of Mr. King’s daughters, Karen Williams and Patty King, have accused a manager, LaVerne Toney, and a personal assistant, Myron Johnson, of having a hand in Mr. King’s death.
“I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances,” the sisters said in affidavits provided to The Associated Press.
In Indianola, Ms. Toney said she “certainly” denied the claims. “All of them are false, and the people making them know they are false,” she said.
But whatever the reasons are, the fans believe that even though they have lost someone they love and admired most, he is now in a better place. And the time will come to meet with him again.
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