Born Riley B. King on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, at age 12 he bought his first guitar for $15.00. In Memphis in the late 1940s, King 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 and he became spellbound with the electric guitar.
In the 1950s, B.B. King became one of the most important names in R&B music, with an impressive list of hits including "You Know I Love You," "Woke Up This Morning," "Please Love Me," "When My Heart Beats like a Hammer," "Whole Lotta Love," "You Upset Me Baby," "Every Day I Have the Blues," "Sneakin' Around," "Ten Long Years," "Bad Luck," "Sweet Little Angel", "On My Word of Honor," and "Please Accept My Love."
King won a Grammy Award for his 1970's recording of "The Thrill Is Gone"; which was a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love." King's mainstream success continued throughout the 1970s with songs like "To Know You is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love."
King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. In 2004 he was awarded the international Polar Music Prize, given to artists "in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music." In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, becoming one of the first artists to be honored by the museum.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked B.B. at #3 on its list of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time."
During his 62 year career, B.B. King has played more than 15,000 performances.