UPDATE: Two of B.B. King’s daughters have hired Benjamin Crump, the attorney who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, to review what they allege is the suspicious circumstances surrounding the bluesman’s death, according to The Associated Press. Brent Bryson, the attorney for the estate and King’s business manager LaVerne Toney rebutted, “The facts of the case are not going to change based on who they bring in to present the case.”
B.B. King was laid to rest at a memorial service in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi on Saturday, but questions whether the blues legend was poisoned continue to loom over his May 14th death. Two of King’s daughters, Karen Williams and Patty King, claimed in a pair of affidavits that they believed King’s death was hastened by business manager LaVerne Toney and personal assistant Myron Johnson. However, King’s son Willie told The Guardian that he believes his sisters “went to the extreme” when they accused Toney of poisoning their father.
“There are always – I don’t want to call them this, but – there’s always a rotten apple in the barrel, and sometimes you can take hurt, and turn it into something that it should not be. And I think out of the anger of losing their dad, they went to the extreme,” Willie King said prior to his father’s public viewing Friday at the B.B. King Museum. “I pray that the public don’t really accept them as an angry person like that, because being my sisters, they are not like that. But sometimes you just don’t know how to express yourself. And you jump out at the nearest person. And they attacked the wrong person.”
The legal fight over King’s last days has grown increasingly rancorous as attorneys for Toney and King’s daughters continue to trade accusations. “Unfortunately even musical icons die. Ms. Toney did everything she could to carry out the wishes of Mr. King while he was alive, and continues to carry out Mr. King’s wishes after his death,” said Brent Bryson, the attorney for King’s estate, which has Toney as executor. “I hope over these next few days we can focus on Mr. King’s musical gifts to the world and not fictional statements made by those seeking attention at the expense of Mr. King.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Larissa Drohobyczer, the attorney for Williams and Patty King, responded to Bryson’s remarks. “Karen and Patty have nothing to gain financially by getting [the] truth on how their father died. Nothing,” Drohobyczer said. “Mr. Bryson is unnecessarily dragging mourning daughters through the mud for no apparent reason. Not one family member was allowed to see B.B. for a week prior to his death, not even his friends. That really hurt and angered Karen and Patty deeply.”
Drohobyczer did not immediately reply to a request for comment regarding Willie King’s remarks.
However, other people who were close to King also questioned the validity of the poisoning claims. “I’m absolutely sure it’s absolutely false,” King’s biographer Charles Sawyer, who penned the authorized The Arrival of B.B. King, told The Guardian. “LaVerne Toney had B.B. King’s power of attorney because he trusted her as much as he could trust any human being.” Myron Johnson, also accused of poisoning the bluesman, even delivered a eulogy at King’s funeral.