B.B. King was laid to rest at his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi on Saturday following an invitation-only funeral and memorial service at the Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Mississippi Public Broadcasting also provided a live stream of the funeral, allowing King’s fans worldwide to pay tribute to the blues legend that passed away on May 14th. That three-and-a-half-hour stream is now available for replay; King’s service begins at the 12-minute mark of the below video.
President Barack Obama penned a letter in memory of King that was read at the funeral service by Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson. “B.B. may be gone but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight,” Obama wrote. Former President Bill Clinton also contributed a King remembrance for Thompson to share at the service, while Stevie Wonder recorded a spoken tribute that was played at the memorial service.
King’s longtime personal assistant Myron Johnson, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and country singer Marty Stuart – who collaborated with King on “Confessin’ the Blues” –remembered King through eulogies. Fats Domino performed “Amazing Grace at the service.
King’s casket was open as family and close friends streamed into the church, allowing them to say goodbye to the blues legend as well as see the image of Lucille, King’s cherished guitar, embroidered into the white linen on the inside of the coffin. The casket was then closed and covered with an arrangement of roses as the memorial service began, Chicago Tribune reports.
King’s Saturday funeral was preceded Friday by a public open casket showing at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. Over 4,000 people lined up to see the bluesman one last time, including fellow blues great Buddy Guy and King’s longtime band member Mike “Mighty Mike” Doster, NBC News reports. King was also flanked by two of his trademark Lucille guitars at the viewing.
King’s legacy will also receive a nationwide tribute Saturday night as, for the first time in 22 years, Austin City Limits will rebroadcast King’s 1982 hour-long visit to the program.