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What a great photo of a young B.B. King!
This beautiful 8x10 promotional photo was issued by the Buffalo Booking Agency of Houston, Texas. The photo is probably dated in the early 1950s, as 1948-1953 was the period in which he recorded for Los Angeles based RPM Records (the RPM logo can be seen in the photo). Interestingly, during BB King’s period with RPM Records, many of his sides were produced by a very young Sam Phillips – who later went on to fame and fortune as the founder of Sun Records, and discoverer of Elvis Presely.
Mr. King has signed his name in black ballpoint.
The photo measures 8x10" and is in excellent condition.
The following is a brief biography of BB King from the All Music Guide:
The seeds of King's enduring talent were sown deep in the blues-rich Mississippi Delta. That's where Riley B. King was sired, in Itta Bena, to be exact. By no means was his childhood easy. Young King was shuttled between his mother's home and his grandmother's residence. The youth put in long days working as a sharecropper and devoutly sang the Lord's praises at church before moving to Indianola - another town located in the very heart of the Delta - in 1943.
Country and gospel music left an indelible impression on King's musical mindset as he matured, along with the styles of blues greats T-Bone Walker and Lonnie Johnson and jazz geniuses Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. In 1946, B.B. King set off for Memphis to look up his cousin, rough-edged country blues guitarist Bukka White. For ten invaluable months, White taught his eager young relative the finer points of playing blues guitar. After returning briefly to Indianola and the sharecropper's eternal struggle with his wife Martha, King arrived in Memphis once again in late 1948. This time, he stuck around for a while.
King was soon broadcasting his music live via Memphis radio station WDIA, a frequency that had only recently switched to a pioneering all-black format. Local club owners preferred that their attractions also held down radio gigs so they could plug their nightly appearances on the air. When WDIA DJ Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert exited his air shift, King took over his record-spinning duties. At first tagged "The Peptikon Boy" (an alcohol-loaded elixir that rivaled Hadacol) when WDIA put him on the air, King's on-air handle became the "Beale Street Blues Boy," later shortened to Blues Boy and then a far snappier B.B.
1949 was a four-star breakthrough year for King. He cut his first four tracks for Jim Bulleit's Bullet Records (including a number entitled "Miss Martha King" after his wife), then signed a contract with the Bihari Brothers' Los Angeles-based RPM Records. King cut a plethora of sides in Memphis over the next couple of years for RPM, many of them produced by a relative newcomer named Sam Phillips (whose Sun Records was still a distant dream at that point in time). Phillips was independently producing sides for both the Biharis and Chess; his stable also included Howlin' Wolf, Rosco Gordon, and fellow WDIA personality Rufus Thomas.
The Biharis also recorded some of King's early output themselves, erecting portable recording equipment wherever they could locate a suitable facility. King's first national R&B chart-topper in 1951, "Three O'Clock Blues" (previously waxed by Lowell Fulson), was cut at a Memphis YMCA. King's Memphis running partners included vocalist Bobby Bland, drummer Earl Forest, and ballad-singing pianist Johnny Ace. When King hit the road to promote "Three O'Clock Blues," he handed the group, known as the Beale Streeters, over to Ace.
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