Top 10 B.B. King Albums

In 1947 at the age of 21, B.B. King, whose full legal name was Riley B. King, hitchhiked from his home near Indianola, Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee. He lived with his cousin Bukka White who was an accomplished and recorded blues artist who schooled King. He broke into radio and had his own program which is where he came up with his stage name abbreviated from Blues Boy King. During his career he recorded 43 studio albums, 16 live albums, 20 compilation albums and 138 singles as well as relentlessly touring over 300 gigs a year until he died in 2015 at the age of 89.

Here are Blues Rock Review’s top 10 B.B. King albums.

10. One Kind Favor

B.B. King released his final studio album in 2008, seven years before his death in 2015 titled One Kind Favor on “Geffen Records.” “One kind favor” is in the opening line of the lead song on the album, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” the 1927 classic by Blind Lemon Jefferson. The album was produced by T Bone Burnett who gave it an old school blues sound. The album includes Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years,” T-Bone Walker’s “Waiting For Your Call” as well as three songs by Lonnie Johnson ,“My Love Is Down,” “Backwater Blues” and “Tomorrow Night.”

9. Lucille

Lucille is B.B. King’s 15th studio album release and was titled after the name he gave to his succession of Gibson guitars over the decades. Six of the nine cuts were written by King along with “Lucille” the title song that the album opens with, which is essentially a song of praise for his guitar. It’s a talk singing number that is accompanied by guitar peals and flourishes from every instrument in the band. The covers included Ivory Joe Hunter’s “No Money, No Luck,” “I Need Your Love” by Walter Spriggs and “Watch Yourself” written by Sidney Barnes, Luke Gross and George Kerr.

8. Blues On the Bayou

B.B. King released his 36th album Blues On the Bayou on “MCA Records” in 1998. The album contains 15 cuts with seven written by King and the other eight are all collaborations co-written by him. The album has been described as being down and dirty blues and it was the first time that King produced his own album. Some of the classic cuts are “Blues Boy Tune,” “Shake It Up and Go” and “If That’s It I Quit.” B.B. was 73 years old at the time and performed over 200 concerts the same year with a third of them around the world.

7. B.B. King Wails

B.B. King Wails is his third studio album and was released in 1959 on the “Crown” record label. All but one of the ten cuts on the album were co-written by King and it’s considered his first regular LP (33 rpm Long Play vinyl record album) since the two previous releases were compilations of songs that had been previously released on 78 rpm and 45 rpm records. The album combines big band jazz with King’s “brand of polished urban blues.” Some of the more outstanding cuts are the guitar/keyboards combination of “The Woman I Love,” the gospel sounding “Come By Here” and the get down blues of “Sweet Thing.”

6. B.B. King Sings Spirituals

B. B. King’s second full studio LP B. B. King Sings Spirituals was released on the “Crown” record label in 1960. It contains “Precious Lord” and “Servants Prayer” by Thomas Dorsey who is considered the father of gospel music. The blues and gospel music are intertwined and many of the early blues musicians also recorded gospel music. Many of them would always include a gospel song in their repertoire to give the Lord His due. “Old Time Religion” and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” are two of the most familiar gospel songs.

5. Riding With the King

Riding With the King is a collaborative album with B.B. King and Eric Clapton that was released on the “Duck/Reprise” record label in 2000. While the two legendary guitar players knew each other since the 1960s they never collaborated on a recording together. Four of the 12 cuts were co-written by B. B. King and are classics like “Ten Long Years” and “Three O’Clock Blues.” The title song “Riding With the King” was written by John Hiatt with some ad lib by King. Clapton appears to be driving on the cover but takes a back seat on the actual album which won a “Grammy Award” in 2001 for “Best Traditional Blues Album.” It was certified 2X Platinum and reached the #1 spot on “Billboard’s Top Blues Albums.”

4. Live At the Regal

B.B. King recorded Live At the Regal in 1964 and released it on “ABC Records” in 1965. At the time he had been performing over 300 shows a year for a decade so he was in his prime. It was recorded at the Regal Theater in Chicago in front of a live audience that interacted with King. Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones called it “the greatest blues album of all time” and many agree with him. King’s spontaneously fluid performance is perfectly captured by the recording that Rolling Stone listed as 299 out of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in their 2020 revision.

3. Indianola Mississippi Seeds

Indianola Mississippi Seeds was produced by Bill Szymczyk who combined King’s gritty blues with some of the top rock artists of that time period. Keyboards were handled by Carole King and Leon Russell with Russ Kunkel on drums and Joe Walsh playing rhythm guitar. The album was critically acclaimed by both critics and fans and King considered it one of his best. The album won a “Grammy Award” for “Best Album Package: Including Album Cover, Graphic Arts & Photography.” Indianola, Mississippi is the town closest to where B.B. King was born and began playing the blues. The album followed the critically acclaimed Completely Well and includes everything from the morose blues of “You’re Still My Woman,” to the gospel inspired “Until I’m Dead and Cold.”

2. Live In Cook County Jail

Johnny Cash released Live At Folsom Prison in 1968 and Johnny At San Quentin in 1969 followed by B.B. King’s Live In Cook County Jail in 1971. King did it after Winston Moore the jail’s warden asked him to. It’s a classic album and is a true representation of a concert for the incarcerated, especially with the booing during the introduction of prison officials. King performed slow versions of classics that he’d been performing for the past two decades. After playing “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “How Blue Can You Get” it’s apparent that he’d won the audience over because of the clapping and cheers.

1. Completely Well

Completely Well broke the mold and turned B.B. King into a household name by crossing him over from being a cult performer to having mass appeal. The person most responsible for the change was producer Bill Szymczyk who had been producing Joe Walsh and the James Gang and would later become the Eagles record producer. The big hit from the album was the last cut, “The Thrill Is Gone,” which became King’s most well known song. It was released at the very tail end of the 1960s in December 1969, just four months after the landmark “Woodstock Festival” and was a culmination of everything that the decade represented.

Bob Gersztyn

As a teenager in Detroit, Michigan during the early 1960’s Bob Gersztyn saw many Motown and other R&B artists including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After his discharge from the army in 1968 he attended school on the GI Bill and spent the next 3 years attending concerts and festivals weekly. It was the seminal period in Detroit rock & roll that Bob witnessed spawning the MC5 and Stooges along with shows featuring everyone from Jimi Hendrix and the “Doors” to B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. In 1971 He moved to Los Angeles, California to finish his schooling where he became an inner city pastor promoting and hosting gospel concerts. He moved to Oregon in 1982 and began photographing and reviewing concerts for music publications. Since that time he has published myriads of photographs, articles, interviews, and contributed to 2 encyclopedias and published 6 books on everything from music to the military. His rock & roll photo art is available for sale on Etsy @: Bob may be contacted personally at

One thought on “Top 10 B.B. King Albums

  • The thrill is NEVER gone. Probably one of the BEST ever blies songs, released on the one of the best ever Blues albums in a truly vintage year. BB was and is the King.


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