Entertainment & Arts

In pictures: BB King's life in music

Respected by his peers and loved by millions, guitarist BB King was a blues legend who influenced a generation of musicians.

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Born Riley B King in Mississippi in 1925, the musician earned his "BB" nickname - a contraction of "Beale Street Blues Boy" - after moving to Memphis in 1947.

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King cut his teeth playing on the so-called Chitlin' Circuit - a string of venues in America's then-racially segregated southern states that took its name from chitterlings, or stewed pig intestines.

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He made his first tour of Europe in 1968 and came to be known and welcomed around the world. In this picture, he is seen on the Great Wall of China in 1994.

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In 1996 he took a break during a European tour to perform for Nato troops at Tuzla airbase in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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King was the recipient of many accolades and won more than a dozen Grammys. This photo was taken in 2001, the year he won best traditional blues album for Riding with the King.

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The album saw him collaborate with Eric Clapton, a long-time fan he first met in the 1960s. "I've never met a better man, a more gracious man than my friend Eric Clapton," he said in 2007.

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Another celebrated collaboration came in 1988 when King appeared on U2's Rattle and Hum album. The musician was reunited with frontman Bono at a tribute concert in 2008.

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King made several trips to the White House during his long and eventful life. Here he is seen receiving the National Medal of Arts from George and Barbara Bush in 1990.

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Sixteen years later, the musician was back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from another member of the Bush family.

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In between those occasions, King found time to jam with President Bill Clinton in Beverly Hills in 2001. The man playing sax between them is "Reverend" Dave Boruff.

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BB was back at the White House in 2001, guitar in hand. The musician named all his instruments Lucille, after a woman who was the root cause of a fire in which his first guitar almost perished.

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King is seen here in 2004 receiving the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. He was recognised for "his significant contributions to the blues" and his "fundamental importance to the development of modern popular music".

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"I think that I know my job pretty well," King said in 2010. "But I'm never any better than my last job. I think that I'm here and, just as easy, cannot be here. So I never think that I've got it made."

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