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B.B. King, the American blues legend who wowed audience for more than seven decades with his trusty guitar Lucille and introduced electronic blues to a wide audience died in Las Vegas late Thursday night. He was 89.

King’s attorney broke the news to the Associated Press, stating that the singer died peacefully in his sleep at his Las Vegas home. King was hospitalized earlier this month after suffering a heart attack. He had long been battling illness, fighting diabetes and generally declining health. The 15-time Grammy winner had be nicknamed the “King of Blues” for his scorching guitar solos and endearing lyrics. He was also a wide ranging mentor for many a legendary guitarist from Eric Clapton to Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and more. Despite his age, King defied the odds time and time again, performing over 250 shows a year well into his eighth decade on Earth.

Born Riley B. King in 1925, B.B. King would go on to record 50 albums, earn induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Born in Bena, Mississippi, King would hone his craft in the birthplace of the blues in the Mississippi Delta, living life as a man picking cotton as a sharecropper in the 1930s and 1940s before picking up a Gibson guitar and travelling the world. His signature song, “The Thrill Is Gone” spoke of nights in a sweaty jukebox, pounding away various drinks of alcohol with the screeching chords and vibratos running along your neck like the Devil himself was breathing on you.

“I’ve always tried to defend the idea that the blues doesn’t have to be sung by a person who comes from Mississippi, as I did,” he said in the 1988 book “Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music.”

“People all over the world have problems,” he said. “And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die.”

Photo: Marco Torres