On Sept. 16, 1925, one of the greatest Blues singers was born. Originally named Riley, B.B. King was born in a small cabin on a cotton plantation to Albert King and Nora Ella Farr in Berclair, Miss.

At the tender age of 4, King’s daddy abandoned the family and his mother wed another man. But the young man didn’t stay with his mother too long, because she was too poor to raise him.

As a result, he went off to live with his grandmother Elnora Farr in Kilmichael, Miss.

With his knack for music, at 12 years old, little Riley purchased his first guitar for a whopping $15. Some sources say, however, a cousin gave it to him.

From there, his passion for music began to form.

In 1948, he performed for the first time on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio show in West Memphis, Ark. There he began to win an audience, which eventually led to a regular 10-minute spot on WDIA in Memphis.

A year later, he debuted on Bullet Records, but sales didn’t do too well. So by that time, he began recording songs under a contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. The label proved to be a good beginning for the artist.

King began to play all over the U.S., winning followers everywhere he went. His career never stopped growing.

According to his website, in the mid-1950s, while he was performing at a dance in Twist, Ark., a few fans became unruly. Two men got into a fight and knocked over a kerosene stove, setting fire to the hall. King raced outdoors to safety with everyone else, then realized that he left his beloved $30 acoustic guitar inside, so he rushed back inside the burning building to retrieve it, narrowly escaping death. When he later found out that the fight had been over a woman named Lucille, he decided to give the name to his guitar to remind him never to do a crazy thing like fight over a woman. Ever since, each one of King’s trademark Gibson guitars has been called Lucille.

The artist is now 86 years old and hasn’t stopped playing since the day he began.

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