UPDATE: B.B. King has posted a Facebook message updating fans on his health. “I want to thank everyone for their concern and good wishes,” the bluesman wrote. “I’m feeling much better and am leaving the hospital today.”
The 89-year-old musician has battled Type II diabetes for more than 20 years, though his daughter, Claudette, told the Times that he “is much better.” A request for more information was not immediately returned by King’s spokesperson.
Last October, the bluesman was forced to cancel eight gigs of his tour after falling ill following a show at Chicago’s House of Blues. “[King] was immediately evaluated by a doctor and diagnosed with dehydration and suffering from exhaustion whereby causing the eight remaining shows of his current tour to be cancelled,” a statement on his site read at the time.
King has spent more than 65 years on the road, playing more than 300 shows a year until slowly cutting back in the last decade, though he still plays more than 100 shows annually.
In 2011, King was voted Number 6 on Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists list. “B.B.’s influences were set at an early stage,” ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons wrote in his tribute to King. “Being from Indianola, Mississippi, he goes back far enough to remember the sound of field hollers and the cornerstone blues figures, like Charley Patton and Robert Johnson.
“There was a turning point, around the time of [1965’s] Live at the Regal, when his sound took on a personality that is untampered with today – this roundish tone, where the front pickup is out of phase with the rear pickup,” added Gibbons. “And B.B. still plays a Gibson amplifier that is long out of production. His sound comes from that combination. It’s just B.B.”
Additional reporting by Patrick Doyle