This book documents a great American story, that of B.B. King, the “King of the Blues,” and one of America’s most important popular musicians. With fascinating images and history—most published for the first time—it traces his migration from the Chitlin’ Circuit (the national network of black theaters and road houses), to Club Ebony in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, and eventually to Carnegie Hall. What was it about Riley B. King that enabled him to become the worldwide “King of the Blues”? The author’s quest to answer that question is chronicled here and tells the story of the once-impossible friendship between someone who grew up poor and black in Mississippi and the white middle-class New Englander who fell in love with the blues and was determined to tell the story of his musical hero. King thrilled his audiences not only with his musical prowess, but with his capacity to establish intimacy, regardless of crowd size; he gave an estimated 18,000 concerts in 90 countries. B.B. King: Indianola to Icon tells the story of King’s journey from sharecropper to musical icon, one who brought the music of America—the blues—to the world. It is a book for blues fans and others who want to know how and why this transformation occurred.

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