The 15-time Grammy Award winner died in Las Vegas, his attorney said. He had struggled in recent years with diabetes, Los Angeles Times reported.
Early on, King transcended his musical shortcomings — an inability to play guitar leads while he sang and a failure to master the use of a bottleneck or slide favored by many of his guitar-playing peers — and created a unique style that made him one of the most respected and influential blues musicians ever.
“B.B. King taps into something universal,” Eric Clapton told The Times in 2005. “He can't be confined to any one genre. That's why I've called him a ‘global musician.’”
King spent decades honing the craft that helped him escape the poverty of the Deep South, where he grew up on a Mississippi plantation as the son of a sharecropper who became a teenage sharecropper himself before singing and playing his way out of the cotton fields.
He was an indefatigable performer who seldom left the concert trail for more than a few days at a time. In 1956 he played 342 shows and even in his later years kept a schedule that would test the endurance of musicians half his age.