You may not remember their names. You may not remember their faces. Chances are, you’ve heard their voices. B.B. King, Ben E. King and Percy Sledge are three musical pioneers who have left undeniable legacies that will live on for eternity. For more than half a century, B.B. King reigned as the King of the Blues. He sang and played guitar with an unbridled passion that lasted from his youth until his death. Born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925, on a plantation near the town of Itta Bena Mississippi, he began singing gospel in the church. He later performed for dimes on the street. He later appeared on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio show. During that time, he needed a catchy radio name. What began as Beale Street Blues Boy was changed to Blues Boy King and later B.B. King. In the 1950’s, he was performing at a dance in Twist Arkansas when a fight occurred. During the brawl a kerosene was turned over. King along with others fled to safety. He went back into the burning building to retrieve his guitar. He later learned that the fight had been over a woman named Lucille. From that moment on, he named each of his prized guitars Lucille to remind him to never fight over a woman. He went on to score such hits as “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss”, “How Blue Can You Get” “Why I Sing The Blues” and “The Three Is Gone”. He recorded over fifty albums, some of which have since become classics and continued performing until his death on May 14, 2015. He was 89. Ben E. King is best remembered for the hit “Stand By Me”, which was featured in the film of the same name. Born Benjamin Earl Nelson on September 28, 1938, in Henderson North Carolina, he began, like many R&B artists, singing gospel in the church. In 1958, he joined the Drifters and went on to score such hits with the group as “There’s Goes My Baby”, “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “This Magic Moment” and “I Count The Tears”. He left the Drifters in 1960 and scored his first solo hit with “Spanish Harlem”. His next single, “Stand By Me”, would be voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Drifter and was nominated as a solo artist. He was also inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009 and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012. On May 1, 2015, it was announced that King had died after an illness. He was 76. Percy Sledge, an R&B, soul, gospel and pop singer is best remembered for the hit “When A Man Loves A Woman”, which topped the pop charts in 1966. Sledge was born on November 25, 1941, in Leighton Alabama. He began working several jobs in the agricultural field before taking a job as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffield Alabama. Through the mid-sixties, he toured the Southeast with the Esquires Combo on weekends while working at the hospital during the week. A former patient and mutual friend of Sledge and record producer Quin Ivy introduced the two. An audition was arranged and Sledge was offered a recording contract. “When A Man Loves A Woman” was Sledge’s first recording and was released in March 1966. According to Sledge, the inspiration for the song came from a girlfriend who left him to pursue a career in modeling after he was laid off from a construction job in 1965. When bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright helped him with the song, Sledge gave all the songwriting credits to them. He enjoyed a career renaissance in the 1980’s when “When A Man Loves A Woman” reentered the charts after being used in a Levis commercial. Pop singer Michael Bolton recorded a remake of the song, which hit number one on the Billboard Pop Charts on November 23, 1991. Sledge died of liver cancer on April 14, 2015. He was 73. The music these artists left behind will live on.
22 Monday Jun 2015
Posted music sitein