Riley was the son of a sharecropper, born in a small town in Mississippi. By the time he was 14, his mother was dead, his father gone, and he had already witnessed a black man being lynched by a white mob. He was living on $2.50 a month. He taught himself how to play the guitar, and, as he recalled, “Growing up on the plantation there in Mississippi, I would work Monday through Saturday noon. I’d go to town on Saturday afternoons, sit on the street corner, and I’d sing and play."
Soon, as he became more well known for his guitar playing, he would be called "Blues Boy," a name which stuck, but was shortened to "B.B."
B.B. King has won more than a dozen Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award, and has been inducted in both the Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame.