B.B. King is a legend that left a legacy of blues music that is practically canonical in the bible of the blues. From the time that he released his first single in 1949 to his last days as a performing musician before his death at the age of 89, he delighted audiences around the world with his legendary live shows. Over the course of his career, King released over sixty albums that were comprised of studio productions, live recordings, and compilation albums along with dozens of singles. He won every award that it was possible for a music artist to win along with fifteen Grammys. These 10 songs are but a sample of his massive legacy.
10. “Three O’Clock Blues”
“Three O’Clock Blues” was B.B. King’s first hit and became one of the best selling R&B singles in 1952. An earlier recording artist named Lowell Fulson had a hit with it in 1948 when 78rpm records were the standard.
9. “Riding With the King”
“Riding With the King” is the title song from an album of the same name that featured both Eric Clapton and B.B. King. The album won a grammy for “Best Traditional Blues” in 2001.
8. “When Love Comes To Town”
“When Love Comes To Town” features B.B. King on U2’s 1988 album Rattle and Hum. It was produced in Memphis, Tennessee at Sun Recording Studio where King recorded his first songs.
7. “Rock Me Baby”
7. “Rock Me Baby” was B.B. King’s first single to reach the Top 40 of the Hot 100 chart from Billboard magazine. King reworked a blues standard that had earlier renditions by other blues artists like Muddy Waters and was later performed by artists like Jimi Hendrix.
6. “You Upset Me Baby”
“You Upset Me Baby” is taken from B.B. King The West Coast Years 1954-1958 and was his fourth #1 R&B hit. The lyrics are risqué and the lush studio production was reproduced in his live shows.
5. “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss”
“Paying The Cost To Be The Boss” came from 1968’s Blues On Top Of Blues. It was King’s fourteenth studio album, was on the “BluesWay” label, and reached #46 on Billboard’s R&B album chart.
4. “Chains and Things”
“Chains and Things” from 1970’s Indianola Mississippi Seeds was a followup trying to capitalize on the success of “The Thrill Is Gone.” The song is more pop and rock leaning than his earlier work and even features legendary singer, songwriter Carole King on piano.
3. “Sweet Sixteen”
“Sweet Sixteen” was a hit for King in 1960 and was included on his 1971 release, B.B. King Live In Cook County Jail. B.B. King and Joe Josea took the song that was originally written by Ahmet Ertegun and became a hit for Joe Turner in 1952 and re-worked it.
2. “Why I Sing The Blues”
“Why I Sing The Blues” appeared on 1969’s Live And Well album with a studio band that included seminal blues legend Al Kooper on keyboards. The video for the song is from a concert in South Africa in 1974.
1. “The Thrill Is Gone”
“The Thrill Is Gone” is B.B. King’s signature song and was released on 1969’s 33 rpm record release of Completely Well which was his 17th studio album. The album was produced by future Eagles producer Bill Szymczyk and records King at the absolute peak of his guitar playing prowess.