In 1998, world famous jazz and blues musician, B.B. King was the first artist to participate in the Great Names Series. Since B.B. King started recording in the late 1940s, he has released more than 50 albums, many of them considered blues classics, like 1965’s Live at the Regal and 1976’s collaboration with Bobby “Blue” Bland, Together for the First Time.
Over the years King has had two number one R&B hits, 1951’s “Three O’Clock Blues,” and 1952’s “You Don’t Know Me!,” and four number two R&B hits, 1953’s “Please Love Me,” 1954's “You Upset Me Baby,” 1960’s “sweet Sixteen, Part I,” and 1966’s “Don’t Answer the Door, Part I.” King’s most popular crossover hit, 1970’s “The Thrill is Gone,” went to number 15 on the pop charts. King has won five Grammy Awards: Best Male Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, in 1970 for “The Thrill is Gone,” Best Ethnic or Traditional recording in 1981 for “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere,” Best Traditional Blues Recording in 1983 for “Blues ’N Jazz,” and in 1985 for “My Guitar Sings the Blues” from Six Silver Strings. In 1990 King won another Grammy for the album, Live at San Quentin.
B.B. King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. King was the recipient of the 1986 National Association for Campus Activities Hall of Fame Award. He was Blues Act of the Year in 1985, 1987 and 1988 Performance Award Polls. He is a founding member of the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center. King received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in December 1987 at the first televised awards in May 1990.