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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Berclair in Leflore County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

B.B. King Birthplace

 
 
B.B. King Birthplace Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 22, 2021
1. B.B. King Birthplace Marker
Inscription.  The long and remarkable life of B.B. King began near this site, where he was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925. His parents, Albert and Nora Ella King, were sharecroppers who lived in a simple home southeast of here along Bear Creek. After his parents separated when he was four, King lived in Kilmichael and Lexington before moving as a teen to Indianola, which he referred to as his hometown.

B.B. King Birthplace "Ambassador of the Blues" and “King of the Blues” are titles Riley "B.B." King earned as the result of decades of touring around the world. But the life of King, who is probably the most influential musician in the history of the blues, could not have begun more humbly. His earliest years were spent at a sharecroppers' cabin a little more than half a mile southeast of this marker.

King's parents split up when he was a small child. He and his mother moved around, eventually settling fifty miles east in Kilmichael with his grandmother, Elnora Farr; both died while King was young. Following a brief stay with his father's new family in Lexington and living on his own in Kilmichael, King moved in 1943 to Indianola.

B.B. King Birthplace Marker (reverse) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 22, 2021
2. B.B. King Birthplace Marker (reverse)
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There he worked as a tractor driver, got married, performed with a gospel quartet, and began actively playing the blues.

In the late ’40s King moved to Memphis to pursue a musical career. By 1949 he had found work as a deejay on radio station WDIA, in addition to winning talent contests at the Palace Theater. At WDIA he earned the nickname "B.B."—short for “Blues Boy." His career took off in 1952 with his first No. 1 rhythm & blues hit, “Three O’Clock Blues,” and over the next decades he scored dozens of hits on the RPM, Kent, ABC, BluesWay, and MCA labels. He toured relentlessly, performing over 350 one-night stands one year. Until the 1960s the vast majority of King’s fans were African Americans, but by the end of that decade young whites had embraced his music. His guitar playing has served as a model for countless blues, rock, and rhythm & blues musicians.

King’s 1970 crossover hit “The Thrill Is Gone”—which provided him with the first of over a dozen GRAMMY® awards—was the launching point for international stardom. Among his many subsequent recordings were collaborations with artists across the musical spectrum including Willie Nelson, U2, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti and Heavy D. All the while King never forgot the folks back home, and in the ’60s began making regular visits back to Mississippi for events including an annual celebration in honor

Closeup of photos and captions on reverse side. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 22, 2021
3. Closeup of photos and captions on reverse side.
of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, and later, a “B.B. King Homecoming” celebration in Indianola and workshops with students at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena. In 2004 the school created the B.B. King Recording Studio in his honor, and in 2008 Mississippi honored one of its favorite sons with the opening of the elaborate B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.
 
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 48.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment. In addition, it is included in the Grammy Award Winners 🎶, and the Mississippi Blues Trail 🎶 series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is September 16, 1925.
 
Location. 33° 26.338′ N, 90° 22.399′ W. Marker is near Berclair, Mississippi, in Leflore County. Marker is at the intersection of County Road 305 and County Road 513, on the right when traveling south on County Road 305. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Itta Bena MS 38941, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. "March Against Fear" (approx. 4½ miles away); The "Caboose" (approx. 4.9 miles away); Itta Bena (approx. 5 miles away); In Memory of the Brave Marines and Navy Corpsman
Marker at the crossroads of County Roads 305 & 513. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, May 22, 2021
4. Marker at the crossroads of County Roads 305 & 513.
(approx. 5.2 miles away); "Where The Southern Crosses The Yellow Dog" (approx. 7.7 miles away); Johnny Russell (approx. 7.8 miles away); "Where the Southern Cross the Dog" (approx. 7.8 miles away); Fort Pemberton Park (approx. 10.3 miles away).
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
 
Also see . . .  Wikipedia article on B.B. King. (Submitted on May 27, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 27, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 27, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Jun. 12, 2021