King of the Blues
Daniel de Vise
‘Without a doubt the most important artist the blues has ever produced’ Eric Clapton
‘No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues’ President Barack Obama
‘One part of me says, “Yes, of course I can play.” But the other part of me says, “Well, I wish I could just do it like B.B. King.”‘ John Lennon
King of the Blues is the story of the first and only superstar of American blues. But it is also a chronicle of the African-American experience. B.B. King grew up in the Deep South, a few generations after the end of slavery, imprisoned within a cruel system of wage slavery known as sharecropping. King of the Blues will also tell the larger story of the birth of modern popular music. B.B. King’s boundless ambition and tireless toil gave him initial success, topping the charts in the 1950s and early ’60s. But then his career hit a wall when his version of classic blues music could not break through to the mainstream.
But then, after years of being out of the limelight, B.B.’s music was rediscovered by new listeners, who saw that he had inspired their guitar rock heroes. From the 1970s on, each time his popularity faded, his music was given new life: fronting for The Rolling Stones, acclaimed by Eric Clapton, praised by U2 and Bono. His last concert was performed in late 2014, six months before he died at age 89.
King of the Blues . . . tracks B.B. King's multifarious career with such efficiency and clarity that surely little of biographical significance remains to be said. . . . [T]he evaluations of King's recordings are comprehensive and almost always judicious. * Mojo * B.B. King, one of the great bluesmen of all time. Can any other person hold one note on the guitar and make it say so much? Daniel de Vise's book on B.B. King is a great read. -- Joan Armatrading B.B. King is one of, if not the best of, America's treasured heroes! Mr. de Vis e meticulously dives deep into why, what and how young Riley, who graced this planet from a world of extreme complications, was able through his talent, relentless drive and humility, to rise to the deserved title 'King of the Blues.' Get your records out and enjoy the read. I did!!! -- Robert Cray The name B.B. King now resonates with longevity amongst blues lovers and music enthusiasts alike. With more than six decades of noteworthy expressions of a great American art form, B.B. King's guitar playing and singing hold a strong place with an unmistakable sound of his professional and effervescent personality. Get a head start within these fine pages for an intimate trip with B.B. King's lifetime attachment to creativity. B.B. is truly King of the Blues, oh yeah! -- Billy Gibbons, guitarist and singer, ZZ Top Like hopping onboard B.B.'s tour bus for a ride straight to the heart of the blues. Told me about the B.B. I knew and a few other B.B.'s as well. I loved them all. -- Shemekia Copeland, three-time Grammy-nominated recording artist B.B. King was a marvelous man and an international ambassador for the blues. King of the Blues tells the extraordinary story of his life in great detail, and a wonderful story it is. A fitting tribute to a great artist. -- John Landis, director of THE BLUES BROTHERS B.B. King was the stone truth, the man who took down home uptown and, yes, the undisputed king of the blues. This, his first full and authoritative biography, is both right on time and long overdue. Dan de Vise has done a solid for music lovers everywhere. -- Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning national columnist and author Extremely thoughtful, thorough and insightful. -- David Ritz, biographical collaborator with B.B. King, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and biographer of Marvin Gaye De Vise writes beautifully. His command of narrative is compelling. The level of detail he amassed is awesome. -- Charles Sawyer, author of THE ARRIVAL OF B.B. KING Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist De Vise...amply demonstrates his masterful storytelling and research skills in this definitive look at legendary blues musician B.B. King (1925-2015). Informed by his conversations with "dozens of surviving friends and relatives, bandmates and producers," De Vise provides an intimate portrait of a cultural luminary "whose achievements transcended his genre." ...Even readers who aren't fans of the blues will be engrossed by this nuanced look at an American icon. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * As blues royalty and one of the 20th century's most influential musicians, B.B. King (1925-2015) has long deserved a well-considered biography that places his achievements in a cultural and historical context. This is it. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist de Vise deftly interweaves tales of American history, pop culture, racial relations, music theory, and much more to fully demonstrate King's significance...The thrill is here, as B.B. King finally gets his due in this first meticulous account of his historic life. * Kirkus Reviews (starred review) * The definitive biography of blues master Riley 'B.B.' King . . . Engaging. The book expertly interweaves King's music career into the U.S. social fabric, especially the civil rights movement. With this fast-moving, informative, evenhanded and exhaustive biography, de Vise vividly captures King's life. * Library Journal (starred review) *
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