Memphis plans send-off for 'King of the Blues'

22 may 2015, 10:10

Memphis, Tennessee, where guitar legend B.B. King started his career, will mourn the late King of the Blues with a procession next week before his burial in his native Mississippi, AFP reports.

The city announced a concert next Wednesday followed by a procession down Beale Street -- the downtown strip famous for its blues clubs -- where B.B. King derived his stage-name.

"B.B. King and Memphis had a long-time love affair, so it's only fitting that the city mark his life on Beale Street," Mayor A.C. Wharton said in a statement.

King's hearse will then travel some 250 kilometers (150 miles) south to the Mississippi Delta, where he grew up, and will be buried on May 30 near the museum bearing his name in the town of Indianola.

Born in poverty and working cotton fields, Riley B. King mastered the guitar and entered the business after traveling to Memphis and working for radio stations.

He became known as the Beale Street Blues Boy, which eventually became B.B. King.

For decades, King played shows almost every night, becoming the premier ambassador for the blues -- the music genre that emerged from African American spirituals in the Deep South.

King died at age 89 on May 14 in Las Vegas, where he kept his residence amid constant touring ended only last year.

A wake is also planned Friday in Las Vegas before his body heads to Memphis.

The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in 2008 to showcase artifacts from the legendary guitarist, as well as the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.

The final resting place could turn the museum into even more of a tourist draw.

Elvis Presley was buried at his Graceland estate, which draws some 500,000 visitors a year and is by far the biggest tourist attraction in Memphis.

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