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Riley "Blues Boy" King (1925-2015) was born into deep poverty in Jim Crow Mississippi. Wrenched away from his sharecropper father, B.B. lost his mother at age ten, leaving him more or less alone. Music became his emancipation from exhausting toil in the fields. Inspired by a local minister's guitar and by the records of Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker, encouraged by his cousin, the established blues man Bukka White, B.B. taught his guitar to sing in the unique solo style that, along with his relentless work ethic and humanity, became his trademark. In turn, generations of artists claimed him as inspiration, from Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to Carlos Santana and the Edge.
King of the Blues presents the vibrant life and times of a trailblazing giant. Witness to dark prejudice and lynching in his youth, B.B. performed incessantly (some 15,000 concerts in 90 countries over nearly 60 years)--in some real way his means of escaping his past. Several of his concerts, including his landmark gig at Chicago's Cook County Jail, endure in legend to this day. His career roller-coasted between adulation and relegation, but he always rose back up. At the same time, his story reveals the many ways record companies took advantage of artists, especially those of color.
Daniel de Vis has interviewed almost every surviving member of B.B. King's inner circle--family, band members, retainers, managers, and more--and their voices and memories enrich and enliven the life of this Mississippi blues titan, whom his contemporary Bobby "Blue" Bland simply called "the man."
Daniel de Visé is the author of the critically acclaimed Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show and The Comeback: Greg LeMond, The True King of American Cycling, and a Legendary Tour de France, and coauthor of I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia. He shared a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his journalism and has worked at the Washington Post and Miami Herald, among other newspapers. He lives in Maryland.
Daniel de Visé will be in conversation with, Diane Williams, the author of The Life and Legacy of B.B. King: A Mississippi Blues Icon. She has authored, edited, and been included in numerous publications and anthologies. She is also a professional storyteller, public speaker, and mixed media fiber artists. Diane retired from state government as a grant administrator for the Mississippi Arts Commission.