B.B. King in Home Hospice Care

There was some confusion yesterday when singer Ben E. King of “Stand By Me” fame died that it was actually legendary bluesman B.B. King. Today, we learn that while B.B. is still alive age 89, he’s not well. “King remains in hospice care Saturday at his home in Las Vegas,” USA Today reports:


King’s longtime business manager Laverne Toney says the musician had a good night and she welcomed the concern about his health. Toney has legal control over King’s affairs.

King first informed his fans Friday via Facebook.

“I am in home hospice care at my residence in Las Vegas,” wrote the blues legend. “Thanks to all for your well wishes and prayers.”

The Clarion-Ledger reports King was briefly hospitalized Thursday for the second time in a month. The Hall of Fame member was diagnosed with diabetes decades ago.

Last night, the London Daily Mail ran an article with the harrowing headline, “BB King was being abused by his manager before he was hospitalized with a minor heart attack, according to blues legend’s daughter:”

Patty King said the blues legend’s long time handler Laverne Toney refused to let her take him to hospital after he’d suffered a heart attack.

According to TMZ, there is an ongoing battle between Patty and Toney, who lives with the 89-year-old in Las Vegas.

Patty reportedly became worried when her father wouldn’t eat and his urine turned orange, and decided to take him to hospital

But when Toney — who has the power of attorney over the guitarist — refused, his daughter called the police.

Responding officers concurred that he needed medical attention and summoned paramedics, who then brought him to hospital.

It was there doctors diagnosed he had had a mild heart attack.

Patty and her boyfriend have already accused Toney of elder abuse, as well as burglary. In November they filed a police report accusing her of fleecing up to $30million and several items of jewelry from the 16-time Grammy winner, as well as withholding his medication.

While police investigated the accusations, no charges were filed against her.


Whatever is going on there, it doesn’t sound good. As the Daily Mail notes, King “toured as recently as last year, but was forced to drop out suffering from dehydration and exhaustion after a show in Chicago.”

B.B. King was one of my teenage idols when I first started learning the electric guitar. I used to love watching King’s regular appearances on the Tonight Show, backed by Johnny Carson’s crack orchestra, with his powerful vocals and incredible vibrato on the guitar, his fingers transforming bent single-string notes into alternately sweet and stinging tones. I was fortunate to see him in September of 2007 Concord Pavilion in northern California. King, then 81, headlined a show with the opening acts of Etta James and the great soul-singer Al Green. By this period of his career though, B.B. King’s set resembled that of another electric guitar legend in his later years, Les Paul. King, once a powerful performer (Four words: Live at the Regal) was seated throughout his entire set, which was filled with sentimental shaggy dog stories between numbers, and only occasionally playing guitar, unlike the old days when he could simply wail on “Lucille,” his Gibson semi-hollowbody electric.


Still though, as with Les, I’m very glad I got to see B.B. King live – and I hope that many others will too going forward, but the articles over the past two days don’t sound promising.


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