B.B. King Net Worth

July 15, 2023
4 mins read

Riley B. King was born 16 September 1925 near Berclair, Mississippi USA, to cotton share croppers, and became acclaimed as one the best blues musicians of all time, being named ‘The King of Blues’, and with Albert King and Freddie King was one of the ‘Three Kings of the Blues Guitar’. Sadly, King died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada on 14 May 2015.

So just how rich was B.B. King? Sources have estimated that B.B.’s net worth was over $30 million at the time of his passing, his wealth having been earned as a singer, guitarist and songwriter during his career in the music industry stretching over more than 70 years.

B.B. King Net Worth $30 Million

B.B. King was raised by his grandparents after his mother left the family. In his childhood King sang in the  church gospel choir, and began playing the guitar from around the age of 12. In his late teens, he began performing casually with various groups in Mississippi and Memphis, but became a regular after performing on Sonny Boy Williamson’s radio program in 1948 on Memphis radio station WIDA. He also worked as a disc jockey and singer, during which period he was nicknamed the Beale Street Blues Boy, afterwards shortened to Blues Boy and later to just B. B. This was the start of his professional career, and the opening of his net worth account.

Many of King’s early recordings starting around 1950 were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records. B.B. assembled his own band, the B.B. King Review and had a recording contract with RPM Records. King also began writing compositions, with the help of trained musician Onzie Horne as, by his own admission, King could not play chords well and in fact relied on improvisation throughout his career.

Then began King’s never-ending touring, at which he was a master, much preferring live shows to recording. Even in his later years, B.B. King was playing more than 100 concerts per year, cutting down the number because of exhaustion from the number which, for most of his career, was more than 200 concerts per year, and in 1956 a record total for a musician of 342. Of course there is no doubt that these were also a very big source of King’s net worth.

In 1952, B.B. King had his first #1 hit “3 O’Clock Blues” on the Billboard R & B chart. From that point, B.B. became one of the stars of R&B and blues music, which status he maintained for the rest of his life. His major hits included “You Know I Love You”, “Woke Up This Morning”, “Please Love Me”, “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer”, “Whole Lotta Love”, “You Upset Me Baby”, “Every Day I have the Blues”, “Sneakin’ Around”, “Ten Long Years”, “Bad Luck”, “Sweet Little Angel”, “On My Word of Honor”, and “Please Accept My Love”. These led to a significant increases in his net worth, and in the early years saw increase from less than $100 a week to well over $2,000, assisted by many concert appearances  including in famous theatres such as the Apollo in New York and Howard in Washington.

B.B. King founded his own record label also in 1956, producing both his own and other artists’ recordings at his Beale Street studio in Memphis. He also widened his music appeal, over the coming years, for example among rock audiences by joining The Rolling Stones tour in 1969, then with the single  “When Love Comes to Town”, in collaboration with the Irish band U2, which gained worldwide success. In 1997, B.B. performed in the Vatican’s fifth annual Christmas concert,  in 1998 he appeared in the film “The Blues Brothers 2000” along with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley, and in 2000 he joined Eric Clapton again to record the album “Riding With the King”, which won the Grammy Award that year for Best Traditional Blues Album.

There was never a let-up in touring with B.B., even in the last few years. In 2011, King played at the  Glastonbury Music Festival and the Royal Albert Hall in the UK; in 2012, King was among the performers at “the White House: Red, White and Blues”, during which President Barack Obama sang part of “Sweet Home Chicago”.  Also in 2012, King performed a concert at the Byblos International Festival, in Lebanon, and then in 2013 at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

During his long career, B.B. King released 138 singles, 43 studio albums, 12 compilation albums and 16 live albums. The most successful B. B. King albums were “Deuces Wild” released in 1997 and certified gold in US and platinum in Canada,  and the aforementioned “Riding with the King” certified twice platinum in US, platinum in Canada, and gold in Australia. His rich discography undoubtedly was one of the major sources of King’s net worth.

B.B. King’s most beloved music genre was blues, however, he has also performed R&B, Pop and other music genres. Needless to mention the fact that B.B. King’s net worth rose after his work was honoured or awarded. From 1971 he won fifteen Grammy Awards for the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording, Best Traditional Blues Recording, Best Traditional Blues Album, Best Rock Instrumental Performance, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In honour of his lifetime activities he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Other notable awards which helped King’s net worth rise were an honorary Doctor of Music by Yale University, National Medal of Arts, Presidential Medal of Freedom and others.

In his personal life, B.B. King was first married to Martha Lee Denton (1946-52), and then to Sue Carol Hall (1958-66). However, it has been suggested that King is the father of fifteen children and has many grandchildren. One of his hobby’s was flying, and he was a FAA-licensed Private Pilot from 1963. B.B. suffered with diabetes for the last 20 years of his life, frequently speaking out about the disease, and publicising it through the medium commercials for relevant medications.

Daniel Wanburg

As the Managing Editor at Net Worth Post, I lead a talented team in delivering compelling content on the lives and achievements of influential figures. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, I oversee the production of insightful biographies that resonate with our audience. My role involves not only managing the editorial process but also conducting research, crafting engaging narratives, and ensuring the accuracy and quality of our publications.

At NetWorthPost, we strive to provide our readers with in-depth profiles that offer valuable insights into the worlds of business, entertainment, and beyond. Through meticulous research and captivating storytelling, we bring to light the remarkable journeys and successes of individuals who inspire and captivate us.

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