B.B. King Real Name and Biography
B.B. King's real name is Riley B. King. He was born in 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and he moved to Memphis in 1947. His first major radio appearance was in 1948 on the West Memphis, Arkansas station KWEM. After that, he began appearing on the Memphis radio station WDIA where he later worked as a D.J.
During his time at WDIA, he earned the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", which was eventually shortened to "B.B." as he was known thereafter. Sam Phillips, one of Memphis' most prominent and influential music producers, produced some of B.B. King's early work. He hit number one on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues Chart in 1952 and followed up with a string of hits in the 1950s.
B.B. King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and in the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in 1987 and was a prolific performer even as he reached his 70s. He passed away on May 14, 2015 from heart failure and complications from diabetes. Memphis marked his passing with a funeral procession down Beale Street. He is buried at the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi.
B.B. King on Beale Street
If you want to experience the legacy of B.B. King in Memphis today, Beale Street is one place you can do so. The B.B. King chain of restaurants has its original location in Memphis at B.B. King's Blues Club at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Beale Street. There are several other locations in Los Angeles, New York City, Nashville, Orlando, West Palm Beach, two in Connecticut, and another Las Vegas.
The club offers plenty of barbecue and Southern food and live blues and rock music every single day. B.B. King's Blues Club was named the Best Bar For Music in the 2016 Memphis Most reader poll from the Commercial Appeal.
Above B.B. King's blues club is the semi-hidden Itta Bena restaurant. This restaurant is a quiet, romantic spot amidst the bustle and activity of Beale Street. Itta Bena features mood lighting, an upscale atmosphere, and a fine dining menu.
B.B. King has a Brass Music Note on Beale Street as well. The Beale Street Brass Notes Walk of Hame commemorates 150 individuals who contributed to Beale Street through their work as musicians, entertainers, producers, or promoters.
B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi
The B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi tells the story of B.B. King's life in the context of the blues, the South, and social change during his life. There are exhibits on the 1930s Mississippi Delta, 1950s Memphis, and the intersection of King's music and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
The Museum is open Sundays and Monday from noon to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It has special hours or may be closed during holidays. Adult admission is $15, seniors are $25, and students and youth are $10.