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Celebrate the King of the Blues’ 80th Birthday with New ``Best Of’’ Album B.B King: The Ultimate Collection, Featuring ``The Thrill is Gone,’’ ``Rock Me Baby’’ and Performances with U2 and Eric Clapton


LOS ANGELES, CA -- February 23, 2005 -- In 2005, B.B. King celebrates his 80th birthday and the music world celebrates with him. This auspicious milestone for the King of the Blues, the man who brought the blues to mainstream popularity and is its most beloved ambassador, will be marked by the 2005 groundbreaking of the B.B. King Museum in his birthplace of Indianola, Mississippi, and the release of a new single-CD “best of” compilation, B.B. King: The Ultimate Collection (Geffen/UMe), released March 15, 2005.

Featuring 21 digitally remastered classics, including 14 of his R&B Top 40s, The Ultimate Collection offers his most recognized recordings from each decade of his career, from 1951’s “Three O’Clock Blues” and 1969’s immortal “The Thrill Is Gone” to the 1988 U2 duet “When Love Comes To Town” and 2000’s “Ten Long Years” with Eric Clapton. The package also boasts an essay by Charles Sawyer, author of The Arrival Of B.B. King, The Authorized Biography Of The Greatest Blues Singer And Guitarist Of Our Time.

Born September 16, 1925, this child of sharecroppers was left to survive at age 14 by raising cotton. Introduced to the guitar by a preacher, he formed a gospel group but also sang the blues on street corners. A radio show led to fame in Memphis before “Three O’Clock Blues” reached #1 R&B and brought national attention. The Ultimate Collection also includes two other ’50s R&B #1s: “Please Love Me” and “You Upset Me Baby.”

More R&B hits followed in the ’60s, beginning with the #2 “Sweet Sixteen, Parts One & Two.” Mainstream America then joined in thanks to the homage paid the blues and B.B. by bands of the British Invasion: The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds and Bluesbreakers. In 1964, “Rock Me Baby” became his first pop Top 40. The decade also yielded “How Blue Can You Get?,” the #2 R&B “Don’t Answer The Door,” the pop Top 40 “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss” (R&B Top 10) and one of the most lauded live albums ever issued, Live At The Regal, which included “Every Day I Have The Blues” and “Sweet Little Angel.”

Then came his signature song, “The Thrill Is Gone,” which reached R&B #3 and pop Top 20 in 1970. The ’70s also brought “Nobody Loves Me But My Mother,” Top 10 R&Bs “Chains And Things” (with Carole King) and “I Like To Live The Love” (also Top 30 pop, with Stevie Wonder), Top 30 R&B “Ain’t Nobody Home” and albums with members of The Crusaders which showcased the R&B Top 30s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” and “Better Not Look Down.”

After teaming with Dr. John for 1980’s “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere,” B.B. introduced the blues to a new generation when he toured with U2 and recorded “When Love Comes To Town” with them. From the ’90s, The Ultimate Collection culls “I’ll Survive” and from the ’00s “Ten Long Years” from his multiplatinum Riding With The King partnership with Clapton.

Today, B.B. -- and his guitar Lucille -- remain the enduring symbols of the blues.


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