We celebrate the birth date of Riley B. King on this day in 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. He wasn't a classic rock musician but admiration of him and his influence on them run deep in the ranks of many guitar greats.
Raised by his maternal grandmother, King was a member of the gospel choir in his Baptist church and got his first guitar instruction from its minister on a Silvertone guitar used during services. Blues man Bukka White, King's mother's first cousin, helped him develop his skills and King honed it further with encouragement from Sonny Boy Williamson, who gave performing slots on his radio show. Riley got a gig as a DJ on a Memphis stations and soon after adopted the nickname Beale Street Blues Boy, which got shortened to B.B.
Being on the air in Memphis was an avenue for King to meet and become friends with a number of influential musicians. His 1952 recording of 3 O'Clock Blues became a #1 R&B song and put King on the way to international acclaim.
He opened for the Rolling Stones on the groups 1989 US tour, worked with U2 on When Love Comes to Town, got inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock Hall Of Fame in 87, but he never took it for granted, spending upwards of 200 nights a year on the road playing live well into his 80's.
Complications from diabetes caused his death on May 14, 2015. Fittingly, he was heralded in a funeral procession down Beale Street in Memphis with a band playing When the Saints Go Marching In before the hearse bearing his body traveled down the fabled blues highway, Rt. 61 to his adopted hometown of indianola for his funeral and internment on the grounds of the B.B. King Museum.
Other Noteworthy Classic Rock events on September 16 include...
1948 Faces and Who drummer Kenny Jones born.
1948 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers bassist Ron Blair born.
1970 Jimi Hendrix makes last public appearance, jamming with Eric Burdon in London club.
1972 Peter Frampton makes US solo debut a year after leaving Humble Pie.
1977 Talking Heads release Talking Heads 77.
1977 Marc Bolan of T-Rex killed in car wreck.
1982 Dire Straits release Love Over Gold.
1984 Deep Purple releases Perfect Strangers.
1987 Guns N Roses release Use Your Illusion I & II.
1993 Grace Slick's Mill Valley, California home destroyed by fire.
2005 Paul McCartney opens world tour in Miami.
2008 BB King Museum opens in Indianola Mississippi.
2014 Slash releases World On Fire.
2014 U2 releases Songs Of Innocence through iTunes during iPhone 6 announcement.