On October 13, 2021, Daniel de Visé discussed his new book King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King as part of the History Is Lunch series.
Riley “Blues Boy” King, born into deep poverty in Jim Crow Mississippi in 1925, became one of the most influential guitar players of the twentieth century. Artists from Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to Carlos Santana and the Edge have claimed B.B. King as an inspiration. De Vise’s new biography King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King chronicles his trailblazing life and times.
“Witness to dark prejudice and lynching in his youth, B.B. King played about 15,000 shows in 90 countries over nearly 60 years—in some real way his means of escaping his past,” said de Visé. “Several of his concerts, including his performance at Chicago’s Cook County Jail, are legendary. His career swung between adulation and relegation, but he always rose back up.”
Daniel de Visé interviewed almost every surviving member of B.B. King’s inner circle, from family to band members, for his book, which the Library Journal said “expertly interweaves King’s music career into the U.S. social fabric, especially the civil rights movement. With this fast-moving, informative, evenhanded, and exhaustive biography, de Visé vividly captures King’s life.”
Maryland resident Daniel de Visé earned a BA in philosophy from Wesleyan University and an MA in journalism from Northwestern University. His work at the Washington Post, Miami Herald, and other newspapers over a 23-year career earned de Visé more than two dozen awards and a share of a 2001 team Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of four books: I Forgot To Remember (with Su Meck, Simon & Schuster, 2014), Andy & Don (Simon & Schuster, 2015), The Comeback (Grove Atlantic, 2018), and King of the Blues.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.